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Equine Therapy: Connecting with Animals in Massachusetts Mental Health Centers

The next time you’re out in the park, or just staring out the window, just have a look at the birds for a moment. See them chirping and playing around and tell me you don’t feel a certain unexplainable soothing effect.

It’s true that nature allows you to relax, because the reality of today’s world is, that you’re always in a constant state of high focus. The stressful commutes, meetings, and even the gaming (which is supposed to be fun and easy) are all high-focus and anxiety-inducing activities.

A simple activity such as birdwatching helps you kick-back and brings you in the present moment, forgetting about your worries as you let nature do its magic. 

Now, with equine-assisted therapy, such as that offered at Massachusetts Mental Health Treatment Center, you take a more active role instead of just sitting idly and observing. 

This active participation has many benefits such as boosted self-esteem and confidence, a sense of achievement, and selflessness. 

Equine therapy dates back to the 1950s and has been found to treat a variety of conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, and much more. Let’s see a lot more details about the numerous benefits of connecting with animals, how it works, and what’s exactly involved in Equine therapy, ahead.

What Is Equine Therapy?

Equine Therapy is a type of mental health rehabilitation therapy through activities with horses. In Equine Therapy you actively take care of your horse, groom them, feed them, and even lead them.

Now, a horse barn seems like an odd place to go to for intensive mental health care but it works magically.

See, when you take care of a creature a lot bigger than you, it gives you a tremendous boost in confidence. You will feel like you can take care of whatever mountainous tasks life throws at you. 

Additionally, caring for a horse requires tremendous concentration, teamwork, and selflessness. So, you’re always practicing skills that give you the tools for excelling in daily life tasks.

And in the process, you get a sense of ownership; meaning, you have an additional purpose – something to look forward to and improve upon every day. 

What’s even better is that you and your horse build a bond by interacting with each other. You can talk to them, let out what’s bothering you in an unbiased judgement-free option, and share your stories in a safe environment. 

Mental Health Rehab Massachusetts

Equine Therapy Heals Numerous Symptoms – Here’s A Few

Equine Therapy has earned its place as a powerhouse therapy in mental health treatment center in Massachusetts; it has a 66.7% likelihood for lower PTSD just after 3 weeks, and a whopping 87.5% after 6 weeks. 

It is a complementary therapy offered with other evidence-based treatment methods in order to adopt a holistic approach to healing. 

You must be wondering why a simple thing such as taking care of an animal works. Turns out, there are quite a few reasons for it. Ahead are some of the conditions that benefit from Equine Therapy, and why. 

Brings You Back Into The Present Moment – Cures Anxiety 

Although anxiety affects more than 17 million Americans, but a six-week session of Equine Therapy can significantly reduce generalized anxiety, according to this study.

Anxiety becomes severe when a person’s life is going through changes and uncertainty; which frankly, is normal everyday life for most people. However, when a person find themselves stuck in the worry of their past and facing fear about their future, seeking care becomes paramount.

By taking care of the horse, the person is able to ground themselves and focus on the task at hand. This makes them forget about their worries and learn to enjoy the present moment. 

Besides, it has been proven that people think of their best ideas when not actively thinking about solutions to problems – you must be familiar with the Eureka” moment.

Furthermore, horses are highly vigilant and sensitive to behavior and emotions – meaning, that they can sense danger and try to get away from it. Or from you, if they feel unsafe around you.

Patients with anxiety are generally familiar with this behavior of horses, as they themselves feel it, making them better able to relate to their partner’s heightened vigilance. So, you will naturally be trying to calm yourself so you can befriend your horse.

Rekindles The Ability To Build Connections – Cures PTSD

7.7 million Americans, aged 18 or older, struggle with PTSD according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (AADA). This is a statistic inclusive of veterans, about whom the prevalence of PTSD is much higher.

After going through combats, most people accept this sad fact that veterans will develop PTSD. So, it is absolutely crucial to work for its remedy, which is offered by equine-assisted psychotherapy.  

According to this case study, a lot of veterans claim that they thought they had lost the ability to bond with someone and build a personal connection, after struggling with PTSD and depression. However, they felt they could build a connection with their horse, almost naturally.

By successfully implementing this behavior, they are able to take this skill into their relationships and reawaken an ability they thought they had lost. 

Provides A Fun Hands-on Experience – Cures ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) is a symptom a person feels when they’re extremely bored or they aren’t actively getting the right feedback on their actions. Hence, they are typically uninterested in almost everything about a person’s everyday life.

However, with interacting with the horse, you get a fun, hands-on experience, and with active feedback. You learn how such a large animal responds to your cues, and you practically make them respond to you. 

This latter part is what particularly appeals to patients with ADHD because it makes them want to do something, rather than doing something just because someone asked them to. 

Additionally, riding isn’t necessarily the focus of Equine Therapy (it may also be offered), rather it is more about present-moment awareness involving attention, mindfulness, and picking up social cues.

So, with Equine Therapy, you’re getting a cure for ADHD, which you can practice in your daily life, this study talks more about it.

Strengthens Hope and Rebuilds Trust – Addiction Treatment

Addiction can undoubtedly cause a lot of wrecking in one’s personal mental and physical health as well as their relationships. This wreckage can feel devastating with the recovery journey looking as long and far. 

However, with Equine Therapy, a person can pile up on their small wins, rebuild confidence, and get the Herculean willpower to go through with the journey that they started.

Furthermore, unlike humans, horses offer unconditional acceptance, free from judgment or criticism. This safe space allows individuals to lower their guard and practice being vulnerable, a crucial step in rebuilding trust.

Practicing For The Unexpected – Growing Even Out Of The Comfort Zone

With interacting with a 1,500-pound animal, you’re actually practicing vulnerability, but in a safe environment. You can try out new things with your horse, and practice an unfamiliar experience with the help and support of your therapist and the horse. 

With time, you will become familiar with this feeling, which you’ll be able to practice naturally in your everyday life. Because, guess what, our lives are filled with the new and the unknown.

But now you’ll know what’s happening and respond accordingly – because you have had the practice.

Benefits Of Equine Therapy Summed Up

So, now that you know how Equine Therapy treats a variety of mental health conditions, here are its benefits summed up. Knowing these will help you choose a suitable mental health treatment center in Massachusetts.

  • Has tons of physical benefits – builds strength, improves balance, and enhances physical endurance. 
  • Provides a safe space – although professionals and therapists do their best to offer unbiased, non-judgmental space, but some clients find it easy to open up to their animal friends.
  • Enhances self-awareness – horses respond to client’s behavior and mirror their emotions, enabling clients to check in and process what’s happening within and around them.
  • Treats a variety of mental health conditions – such as those that are mentioned above including stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, and more.
  • Provides numerous other benefits – including adaptability, impulse control, distress tolerance, independence, boosted self-esteem, and much more.

What You Have To Do Now?

Before you get into Equine Therapy for yourself or someone you know, here’s a bit of a disclaimer for you.

Caring for the horse requires a ton of work – they must be fed, watered, exercised, groomed, etc. 

Tons of work but it is certainly rewarding as well as therapeutic. Seeing someone grow and flourish, and knowing you made that happen, is a sense of accomplishment unmatched by anything else. 

It nurtures feelings of empathy and selflessness, and of course the sense of accomplishment.

If you are scared that you might hurt your horse, well there’s always safety for you even in the worst-case scenarios. Equine Therapies are offered under the supervision of a professional, so you have a careful eye watching over you and your friend. 

With that in mind, you can rest assured, and even be excited to be a part of your horse’s life – they’ve been waiting for you!

Resilience Behavioral Health can assist you with this journey, click here to book your consultation or call 888.401.1179 to talk to your mental health representative right now.