Our setting in the southern Utah wilderness makes Monuments a perfect locale for equine-assisted therapy. There’s plenty of room to roam both on our spacious property and on the tens of thousands of surrounding areas of wilderness.
In this second blog of September, let’s get into the benefits we achieve with our teenage boys when they learn to care for and interact with our horses.
What are the psychotherapeutic benefits of equine-assisted therapy?
Various studies have shown this type of therapy can be very effective with teenage boys. These are just a handful of the wide-ranging benefits we see in our patients:
- Trust — The first step of equine-assisted therapy is for the student to learn to trust the horse, the therapist, and himself. Often our students have had their sense of trust violated and learning to trust these large, calm animals rebuilds it.
- Anxiety reduction — By overcoming any initial fear of the horse, our teenage boys begin to sense the genuine affection and interest of the horse; this empowers the student and anxiety levels drop correspondingly.
- Depression and isolation — Horses are unconditionally accepting, and their non-verbal communication decreases our students’ feelings of isolation and corresponding depression.
- Mindfulness — Mindfulness is where our students learn to stay in the moment, focusing entirely and engaging fully. Horses are quite intuitive and can sense human emotions, giving instant feedback to our students. This enables the teen to learn new, positive ways of being. This positively impacts cognition, feelings, and behaviors associated with depression and other mental health issues.
- Impulse regulations — Many of our students have trouble with impulse control, leading to destructive behaviors. Equine-assisted therapy is effective in reducing our teenagers’ irritability, agitation, and impulsivity. This increases their cooperation, emotional regulation, capacity for delay, and behavioral control.
- Communication — Learning to communicate and achieve harmony with a large animal promotes intuition, stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, and patience. Horses’ sensitivity to non-verbal communication assists our students to develop greater awareness of their emotions, the non-verbal clues that they may be giving off, and the critical role of non-verbal communication in relationships.
We’re proud of the results we achieve with our equine-assisted therapy at Monuments. If your teenage son is having trouble with addiction or other inappropriate behaviors, let’s talk. Call us at (800) 559-1980.