Equine-assisted psychotherapy, or EAP, is used for a myriad of mental health issues.
Many people come out of addiction feeling a sense of worthlessness. Addiction depleted their overall mental and emotional state, and even though they are no longer using, they still feel hopeless.
Horses have an unusually keen sensitivity to their environment; they can sense human emotions and are very social creatures. They respond to people based solely on the interaction they are having in the moment. When used for therapeutic purposes, horses give us the opportunity to interact with them in a pure and non-threatening way. When we engage with them, they return in kind. This can begin breaking down the walls that addiction has built.
One can engage with the horse in a calm, peaceful way and get the same response back.
This can help to build trust again. It has been shown that even just two sessions of EAP will have a positive effect on one’s self-esteem. Engaging with such a powerful and significant presence also helps break down fear barriers.
EAP is a hands-on approach to therapy.
The client can choose the horse they want to work with, practice grooming and brushing the horse, and even take the horse for walks. Afterward, discussion with a therapist is used to pinpoint the client’s emotional reaction.
EAP has not only been used in addiction recovery, but has also been proven effective with depression, relaxation, and self-control.
Who would have thought that these beautiful creatures that have been part of human society for thousands of years would have such a wonderful impact on us?
How Horses Help With Mental Health Issues. Everyday Health. Retrieved February, 2017.