Equine therapy is an alternative to traditional therapy that involves using horses to provide emotional growth for troubled youth. Equine therapists use different practices to improve behavior. For example, students must direct a horse without touching the animal—during which they often find that the best solution is to use a calm, rational voice, and walk alongside the horse, rather than pull from the front or back, according to Equine Psychotherapy. Students will also learn how to groom horses, fit a saddle and other basic etiquette.
Equine therapy has proven to be helpful for teenagers with mental illness, such as depression, conduct disorders, anxiety, autism and others. Riders learn to overcome fears, build up their confidence, learn responsibility, and build a trusting relationship with the horse.
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Horses are large, powerful animals that are sensitive to stimuli, and their reactions to human touch and behavior is one of the major therapeutic factors of the therapy. The patient is in control during a therapy session, and they learn about themselves—their behaviors, attitude and what problems they need to focus on—through physical interaction with the horse.
Positive benefits resulting from equine therapy include:
- Decreased Isolation
- Impulse Control
- Social Skills
Equine therapy is a less-daunting option of therapy for teens, compared to counselling or other traditional forms of mental illness therapy. If your teen is a hands-on learner and responds well to interaction, equine therapy could be a suitable treatment option for them.
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