One of our treatments at Monuments is known as equine assisted wellness. We get lots of questions from parents about what this means and what is involved, and how can this possibly help their teen.
Here’s more about it.
What is equine assisted wellness?
Equine assisted therapy or wellness is a form of experiential therapy that includes horses and a specialist psychologist or counselor working together with a student to create positive change in the student’s life. Our counselors have specialized training in equine assisted therapy beyond all of their mental health training.
What is involved with this? Do they just ride horses?
Parents often assume this therapy is simply riding horses around our scenic Parowan grounds, but that’s far from how it works. Our equine assisted therapy includes a number of beneficial equine activities such as observing, handling, grooming, groundwork, and structured challenging exercises focused on the student’s needs and goals.
We feel this therapy is very effective. It provides unique non-verbal opportunities for the student to enhance his or her self-awareness, recognize maladaptive behaviors, identify negative feelings, and face self-defeating thought patterns. We’ve seen amazing changes in mood, judgment, social skills, behavior, communication, cognition, insight, perception, and learning.
What are the benefits of equine assisted wellness?
Research overall, and our experience at Monuments, has shown this therapy to have numerous psychotherapeutic benefits. Here are just a few:
- Trust — Learning to trust the horse, the therapist, and yourself is a very powerful developmental step.
- Anxiety reduction — Contact with animals significantly reduces physiological anxiety levels. Our trained therapy horses overcome student’s initial fears and create open affection.
- Depression and isolation — Horses are unconditionally accepting, and they have intense non-verbal (of course) communication abilities that students respond to.
- Mindfulness — Horses are very sensitive and pick up on others’ emotions quickly, and they accurately reflect these feelings back to the student. This creates a feedback loop that allows the student to learn new positive ways of thinking and being.
- Impulse regulation — Troubled teens can be very impulsive but that doesn’t work with horses. Horses demand communication that is calm and non-reactive. This helps the student to learn skills of emotional awareness, emotion regulation, self-control, and impulse modification.
There are many more benefits to our equine assisted wellness program at Monuments. If you’re interested in more information or how we may be able to help with your teenager, please give us a call at (800) 559-1980.