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Equine Therapy

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How Can Horse Therapy Improve Relationship Skills In Children

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For children struggling with a variety of mental health issues, from trauma to depression to addiction, research has shown that equine programs can provide substantial benefits. From horseback riding to caring for horses through equine-assisted therapy, interacting with horses can help improve overall mental health and relationships with others.

How working with horses can help girls improve other relationships in their lives

While interactions with horses have been found to help a myriad of people, they are particularly effective in helping children with special challenges such as emotional and behavioral issues. Many children with these issues have trouble trusting the adults in their lives, and those with a history of abuse can often appear aggressive or hostile toward others. For these children, a combination of cognitive therapy and working with horses has demonstrated positive results.

Working with horses can teach children about behavior regulation and leadership. As horses are prey animals, they will look for a leader to help them feel safe. Horses thrive on nonverbal communication and if they feel threatened or unsafe, they will retreat from the perceived threat. Because horses can recognize emotion, children will be able to see the immediate effect of responding positively to the horse. In this way, a horse acts as a mirror to your child’s behavior which can serve as a teachable moment for how their behavior affects others.

Another skill working with horses can teach children is intentional attention towards others and away from self. When children have to groom, feed, and take care of horses, they aren’t thinking about themselves. This shift in attention away from themselves allows them to be able to more deeply care about and for other people in an environment that is removed from the pressures of daily life.

Working with horses can also help children develop emotionally in a variety of different ways from helping them feel more secure in themselves to overcoming adverse effects of trauma. Children can gain confidence in themselves as they learn to ride a horse and be assertive in their directions and decisions. They can gain trust by learning to cooperate with and develop a bond with their animal, which can lead to trust in other relationships. This bond can also help struggling children develop empathy and affection in a low-risk environment.

If your daughter is struggling behaviorally, emotionally, or socially, she could benefit from a program with a strong equine component.

Solstice East can help

Solstice East is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls ages 14-18 that specializes in treating teens who are highly intelligent and sensitive but vulnerable to the pressures of their surroundings. Our campus offers on-site equine therapy, an accredited academic schedule, plus world-class therapeutic programming to treat a wide range of trauma and disorders.

In equine therapy, our students learn about communication and relationships, providing a powerful mirror for students to reflect on their moods as well as verbal and nonverbal communication. For more information about how Solstice East can help, please call 828-484-9946.

Using Therapy with Horses to Help Girls Learn and Grow

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Animals and humans have a certain bond. If you’ve ever owned a pet–dog or cat–you probably know what I’m referring to. It’s the type of bond that offers an unconditional and unquestioning love that holds a level of simplicity humans aren’t capable of offering each other. This bond is what makes therapy with horses (equine therapy) so effective.

Numerous studies have exemplified the power of conducting therapy with horses. One reported decreases in psychological distress and increases in psychological well being. This effect didn’t just last a small amount of time after treatment, either–the improvements were still stable after 6 months.

When used with other therapies, the positive effects are stronger

When combined with other therapies, it seems that the power of therapy with horses is amplified. Traditional therapy has it’s limitations, as does equine therapy; however, when used together, the therapies fill each other’s gaps and strengthen the therapeutic experience.

Some research has confirmed that when traditional therapy was used alongside equine therapy, the results were that individuals had the ability to self-reflect much more than those who just participated in traditional therapy.

The transformative power of therapy with horses

Therapy with horses has been found to help individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, substance abuse, and much, much more. Some of the areas in which equine therapy can help include:

  • Relationships. Many troubled teens struggle to develop healthy, strong relationships with friends and family members. Therapy with horses allows teens to develop a healthy relationship with a living thing, giving them the chance to take the first step towards understanding how to nurture and maintain relationships.
  • Stress and Anixety Relief. This isn’t just in therapy with horses, but also in therapy with other animals as well. Animals have a way of calming us down and smoothly our nerves over. Equine therapy has also been shown to actually relieve physical ailments associated with mood or anxiety disorders, such as headaches, dizziness, or nausea.
  • Self-Reflection. One of the things that troubled teens struggle most with is self-reflection. This ability is needed in order to move through life in a satisfying and successful way. By working with horses, teens see the direct effects of their actions which gives them the opportunity to understand natural consequences.

Therapy with horses obviously has a massive amount of potential in helping struggling adolescents get back on their feet. If you believe your daughter is having issues with a mental illness or something else, it’s critical to reach out to a professional.

Solstice East is here for your family

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. We understand the specific needs of troubled girls, which is why our program is centered solely on them. Our girls often grapple with depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us.

We strive to help students develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success and happiness through meaningful therapy and a nurturing environment.

For more information about how we use therapy with horses at Solstice East, please contact us at 828-484-9946.