Any time spent with animals is usually time well spent.
For teenagers in equine-assisted therapy, the time spent with horses can make a deep and immediate impact. Even a short ride on a horse can make a big difference in the long term — physically and mentally.
And for many at-risk youth, Alpine Academy Utah reviews that equine-assisted therapy used by residential therapy organizations opens up a path to a more productive, happier future.
An Intro of Equine-Assisted Therapy
A form of animal-assisted therapy, equine-assisted therapy eschews traditional talk therapy for collaborative therapy involving a horse professional, a therapist, and a client working toward a particular treatment goal.
Equine-assisted therapy is commonly found on otherwise traditional horse farms or other facilities run by nonprofits or government agencies. Equine-assisted therapy is adaptable for all ages but is typically used most frequently by children and young adults.
People participating in equine-assisted therapy do everything from cleaning stalls and grooming horses to learning how to ride individually or in groups. For those in need of physical therapy, equine-assisted approaches directly address such conditions as restricted mobility and neurological damage.
The teenage years are never easy. As a result, many teens may struggle with academics and may develop behavioral concerns. Developing good self-worth and habits fostering positive well-being is essential but often challenging for teens and their loved ones.
Both mental and physical health can be addressed — often both at the same time. Research has shown that the connection formed between an individual and a horse is powerful and valuable.
Relieving anxiety and depression are commonly employed through equine-assisted therapy, especially for those coping with trauma or with extremely low self-esteem. Clients are guided through various exercises, such as petting a horse or riding through a small course.
Commonly, there’s a sense of control and calm that comes with such exercises. Equine therapy has been used for teenagers experiencing everything from autism to sensory challenges.
Other benefits of equine-assisted therapy include increased confidence and trust, the development of vital problem-solving and leadership skills, patience, and self-control. Teenagers with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), drug and alcohol addiction, and eating disorders have all benefited from various forms of equine-assisted therapy.
What to Expect
At professional treatment centers such as Alpine Academy, equine-assisted therapy is often paired with traditional individual and family talk therapy for teens in need.
Both group and individual equine therapy are regularly offered at Alpine Academy, typically led by a teen’s primary therapist and recreation specialists certified in equine-assisted therapy and psychology. The therapy is tailored to a teen’s unique situation and needs, often pinpointed by the primary therapist.
Therapy sessions are focused highly on teenagers developing a better sense of self, how to make better decisions, and how to change in a positive way. During therapy at Alpine Academy, teenagers learn not just more about themselves but about the world around them — as well as how to develop proper family and friend dynamics.