Studies suggest that animals and using animals in therapy can provide people with therapeutic benefits. Equine therapy is a form psychotherapy that utilizes horses to promote emotional growth and healing. Many therapists believe that equine therapy is best for clients that resist more traditional therapies.
A typical equine therapy sessions consists of grooming, feeding, walking, and engaging with the horses in a positive manner. The client will work with a therapist and an equine professional during most equine therapy sessions.
The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association advocates for equine therapy to be used in:
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Behavioral issues
- Anxiety disorders
- Depressive disorders
- Relationship healing
Therapists use the horses behaviors and movements as a way to examine and explain the negative patterns of thinking that may develop in an unhealthy lifestyle. Together, the goal is for the client and the horse to become friends and care for each other in the context of therapy.
Much like dogs, horses are very social and loving animals. Therapists and clients learn through the relationships developed with the horses. The goal is to help clients consider relationships without the fear of rejection or criticism.