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The Benefits of Equine Therapy for Anxiety

For nearly 60 years, people have been incorporating horses into therapy. Citing their calm nature and pleasant demeanor, more and more people seeking treatment for anxiety are now turning to equine therapy. As equine therapy for anxiety continues to rise in popularity, so too does its demand. By learning more about equine therapy, we hope to provide an alternative method of treatment for anxiety.

What is Equine Therapy?

Also known as equine assisted therapy, equine therapy for anxiety involves personal interactions with horses and other equines in a safe, controlled environment conducive to healing. First popularized in America during the 1960s, equine therapy was originally implemented as a means of therapy for those suffering from physical injuries. As time passed, more people began to see the benefits of equine therapy.

Decades later, during the mid-1990s, people began experimenting with the treatment of mental health disorders with equine therapy. Many alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs also employ equine therapy. In recent years, several industries have sprung up around the equine therapy community. This has allowed for both innovation and near perfection of the process.

It should be noted that equine therapy may not be suitable for everyone and should never be considered a replacement for therapies prescribed by licensed physicians. Still, many people have found it to be right for them.

The Roles of Horses in Equine Therapy

Horses play an essential role in equine therapy. There are several basic types of equine therapy. Generally, these types fall under the categories of: therapeutic horseback riding, hippotherapy, and equine-assisted psychotherapy. While all three techniques are unique, all involve the use of horses. 

Therapeutic horseback riding is a type of equine therapy for anxiety that works by allowing a person to build a direct relationship and bond with a horse. This process involves interacting in close proximity with the horse, petting, playing, and riding in a safe and controlled environment. This is one of the oldest forms, working to decrease anxiety by building a healthy relationship with the horse.

Hippotherapy and Others

Hippotherapy involves the use of horses in an effort to correct physical conditions and injuries. It can also serve as a part of speech therapy. The thought is that by balancing and learning to coordinate both verbal and physical cues while riding the horse, one can effectively improve speech and physical deficiencies. While similar to therapeutic horseback riding, therapists regard hippotherapy as the least useful of the three basic types of equine therapy. 

Equine assisted psychotherapy (Also known as EAP or Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy) involves the use of various equines to treat human psychological conditions in a safe and secure environment, usually at or close to an equestrian facility. Some programs implement riding into this form of therapy, but most of the time is spent on ground work. Ground work refers to the process of working with a horse while standing on the ground. 

Popularized during the 1990s, the idea behind equine assisted psychotherapy revolves around the process of building a relationship with the horse. These exercises can ease anxiety and promote feelings of wellness.

Benefits of Equine Therapy for Anxiety

The benefits of equine therapy can make a huge difference in the lives of those suffering from anxiety. While equine therapy should never be used as a replacement for treatments, it can be implemented into ongoing treatment plans. In other words, one effectively gives themselves an effective avenue o treat their anxiety by giving equine therapy a chance.

Get Assistance for Anxiety in Tennessee 

Here at Tennessee Valley Recovery, we are waiting to help you during your personal recovery journey. Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, our staff are ready to give you the tools necessary to reclaim your freedom. We are proud to offer multiple pathways to recovery to help best fit your individual situation. There has never been a better time to regain control of your life. Contact our admissions page today, and take the first steps in your personalized recovery journey.