Equine-assisted therapy is effective for a wide range of mental health disorders including addiction, depression, anxiety and trauma. The Ranch (Tennessee)’s unique equine-assisted therapy program uses interaction with horses to offer clients a new way to connect with themselves, process their emotions and explore behaviors and relationship patterns that have become problematic in their day-to-day lives.
Horses are majestic, gentle creatures and their sheer size and strength can stir deeply buried emotions in clients. Clients are able to bond with the animals and learn valuable lessons about respect, empathy and communication that will help them in their recovery journey.
What It Is:
Clients interact with horses with the help of specially trained equine therapists. Through practices like bathing, grooming and caring for the horses, clients can explore their own feelings, behaviors and interactions with others.
Interactions with the horses bring up thought and behavior patterns that are related to the issues that have brought clients into treatment. We identify these patterns and customize experiential exercises to address each client’s individual needs.
How It Helps:
Through working with horses, clients gain valuable insights into themselves, their addictions and/or mental health disorders and how they can better relate both with themselves and with others.
Clients are often able to connect with and feel empathy for the horses before being able to connect with or feel empathy for themselves or others. They can test new possibilities by taking initial risks in the context of a relationship with another living being, before taking the bigger risks in the context of human interaction.
After participating in equine therapy, clients often find it easier to speak their mind, process their emotions and connect with themselves and others in the community. Equine therapy brings emotions to the surface so clients can begin working through them and more fully engage in the recovery process.
Other benefits include:
- Increased empathy and willingness to be vulnerable
- Increased sense of responsibility and self-confidence
- Better communication, decision-making and problem-solving skills
- Better ability to express feelings, needs, hopes and desires
- Improved ability to process and share difficult emotions and experiences
- Increased connection to self and others
- Better understanding of teamwork and community
- Increased trust and respect in relationships
- Greater respect for diversity and individuality