Equine Assisted Therapy

Equine Assisted Therapy

The Human-Horse Connection

The special bond that is developed between a horse and a teen often times leads to amazing healing and personal growth.

Horses have a unique ability and sensitivity to the feelings and emotional distress of individuals. It is in the human-horse relational context that the horse reflects back to the teen what it is feeling from the teen. With Equine Assisted Therapy, there exists opportunities for the development of caring and nurturing behaviors because the adolescent is required to be in the here-and-now with the horse. Equine Therapists use the horse in this relational context to guide and support change.

It is often in the human-horse connection that the teen can address and break down the barriers and resistance they feel towards the therapeutic process.

Learn by Doing with Reflection

The use of horses for therapy has been widely recognized as a significant therapeutic process. Equine Assisted Therapy is an experiential process (a therapeutic approach where individuals can address emotions and issues through experiences rather than traditional ‘talk’ therapy) that can influence them in many powerful ways. Through Equine Assisted Therapy, adolescents who may not normally respond to more traditional therapies oftentimes recognize and identify feelings and emotions.
As the teen is able to frame their emotions with language–like fear, anxiety, and rejection–they begin to develop skills to cope in a relational context. The new found confidence allows for greater emotional honesty and sharing in a relational context. As a result, Equine Therapy can be especially effective with treatment resistant adolescents, who learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with horses, therapists, and their peers.

In House Equine Assisted Therapy

A number of well respected residential treatment centers have discovered the power of Equine Assisted Therapy, and as such, have contracted with outside vendors to send their residents for Equine Therapy. Newport Academy, on the other hand, provides on-site equine assisted therapy wherein each adolescent is assigned a horse to work with and care for.

The Equine Assisted Therapy program at Newport Academy is led by certified and credentialed equine specialists who are both trained in the use of horses in therapeutic settings as well as licensed and trained therapists able to work with adolescents with substance abuse and mental health issues. Equine Therapists are present at all times during the therapeutic process and work collaboratively with Newport Academy’s Clinical Director and clinical team in the development and implementation of the individual treatment plan.

Goals for teens involved in Equine Assisted Therapy include:

  • Development of improved social skills and self-confidence
  • Active participation in group activities
  • Problem solving
  • Resolution of inner conflicts
  • Improvement of self -esteem
  • Increased sense of self

The affect, is that the principles and behaviors that created the teen’s relationship with their horse is transferred to important relationships in their lives-family and friends.

Horses provide an honest, reflective relational context where adolescents can identify principles that create meaningful and abiding relationships. As the adolescent begins to build upon principles of relational trust with the horse, they begin to develop the confidence and skills essential to their growth and recovery.

Effective and permanent changes can occur in adolescents working with horses.