Is Equine Therapy effective for PTSD and addiction?

The equine history in this country is fascinating, from mustangs roaming free throughout the plains to providing transportation and farm labor to racing and peaceful pastimes. Today, horses are used in specific therapy applications for the reason that they have been proven quite effective in helping people with physical issues, speech problems, emotional issues, behavioral challenges, and many disabilities. In fact, equine therapy for PTSD and addiction has been quite successful, and it is gaining popularity with every passing day.

There are a number of pieces of research studies that have suggested that humans gain significant benefits from regular animal contact. For those who can develop a special and unique relationship with a horse, the associated therapy can make a tremendous impact on that individual. Horses can act as a silent intermediary, teachers to facilitate exercises and even assist in problem-solving.

Horses can also be used in occupational therapy, which helps to develop skills the individual receiving the therapy can use later in life. Equine therapy is used to help people communicate, develop fine motor skills, and learn how to approach problems in positive ways. They can also use this type of therapy to foster an understanding and compassion for diverse individuals and animals.

Equine therapy for PTSD and addiction has been used for young people who are often excluded from normal groups, those who have served time, individuals with autism, those struggling with or overcoming addiction, individuals with eating disorders, those living in foster family situations, individuals struggling with posttraumatic stress disorder or depression and individuals seeking to develop specific life skills.

While the use of equine therapy in any setting may appear to be new-age medicine, it has actually been in use for centuries. Documentation from ancient Greece suggests that horse-assisted therapy dates as far back as 600 BC. The first modern research into the ability to assist with an individual’s physical recovery was conducted in the late 1800s.

By the 20th century, equine therapy for PTSD and addiction found a place in helping those with physical handicaps and wounded soldiers or those afflicted with the polio disease. By the 1990s, therapists were developing a full range of applications for equine therapy, and today it is in use throughout the world. In the United States, it is viewed as beneficial therapy, covered by a number of private and state-provided insurance plans.

Equine therapy for PTSD and addiction also fulfills an important role for troubled teens. A number of these individuals can gain essential insights into what is happening internally by working with horses. At the same time, they also recognize their own strengths and virtues that can be expressed through working with these horses.

In the application of equine therapy for PTSD and addiction, this is one environment where it does not matter the person’s background, only that they are willing to work with the horses. The animal does not judge the individual, only the way they are handled at the moment. In addition, the animal will express love to the teen who can’t seem to find it anywhere else.


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