Equine Therapy For Troubled Girls
Equine therapy (EAT), as the name suggests, is an animal-assisted treatment that involves patient interactions with horses. This animal-assisted therapy has become increasingly popular amongst parents of at-risk and mentally ill teenagers. Like any revolutionary treatment, equine-assisted therapy is still in its infancy, and therefore, has not been widely publicized by major psychiatric papers. That said, the dozens of studies into the effects of equine therapy on troubled youth -- particularly teenage girls -- have been more than promising. If the research into equine therapy, thus far, is any indication of its future success, look for the treatment's meteoric rise in the near future.
What Is Equine Therapy?
As the title suggests, Equine-assisted therapy revolves around engaging in activities - such as grooming, feeding, and riding - under the guidance of a specially qualified mental health expert.
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Equine therapy is provenly efficient in helping patients strengthen and sharpen emotional regulation, self-confidence, and individual accountability skills.
As previously discussed, equine therapy has erupted in popularity. Its experimental approach and proof tactics are typical can be classified as one of the following four terms:
- Equine-assisted mental health
- Equine-assisted counseling
- Equine-facilitated psychotherapy
- Equine-assisted therapy
History of Equine Therapy
While the rise in the modern application of equine therapy may be comparatively recent, the therapeutic use of ponies and fully grown horses has been practiced since ancient Greece.
The Greek "Father of Medicine" Hippocrates was the first known person to write about the therapeutic advantage of horseback riding taking care of horses.
However, the modern application of equine therapy can trace its roots to the late 60's North American Riding for Handicapped Association, later reformed as the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.
Over the next few decades, equine therapy began to grow in popularity and was ultimately used to combat severe mental health disorders, such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, and even schizophrenia. Since then, multiple studies have found the treatment to be particularly effective in treating the mental health disorders of teenage girls.
What is The Goal of Equine-Assisted Therapy?
Equine therapy aims to help the girl develop needed skills and attributes, such as accountability, self-confidence, problem-solving skills, and self-control. Equine therapy also implements an innovative milieu in which the therapist and the patient can recognize and address a range of emotional and behavioral difficulties.
While working with horses (along with the help of the guidance and supervision of an especially trained equine-expert therapist), troubled teenage girls have a unique opportunity to note their propensity to act out in self-destructive and otherwise adverse thoughts and actions. These unprecedented understandings of the teenage female mind provide an excellent bases for consultation and processing both during and following the equine therapy experiential treatment.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." - 2 Corinthians 5: 17-19
What Makes Animal-Assisted Therapy Effective?
Numerous theories, contributing factors, and scientific studies explain why animal-assisted treatment treats mental health-related issues effectively.
For example, Edward O. Wilson, a famed scientist, postulates through the biophilia theory that our affections for animals originate from our ancient, ancient ancestors' dependence on creatures for survival. Wilson points out that our ancestors relied on signals from animals that designated environmental situations to presume whether they were safe or dangerous.
Wilson's theory posits that if we see animals in a peaceful or restful state, we feel a returned sense of "protection, security, and enhanced wellbeing." Incidentally, Wilson suggests this requited association with animals may enable a triggered state in us - one in which we can experience personal and healing transformation.
Equine therapy, or Equine-assisted behavioral treatment (EAP) - which can be utilized in one-on-one or group counseling settings - is a universal therapy that can treat a plethora of mental health-related issues.
Because it is not often used as a sole solution, equine therapy is regularly assigned to supplemental or complementary psychotherapy. It is broadly used in cooperation with conventional mental health programs.
Proponents of EAP state it is effective for various reasons, namely, its experientially environmental aspects (eg. It brings patients outdoors wherever they can use all their senses while processing through emotional trials.