Equine Assisted Therapy is a Powerful Tool in Recovery

Edited by Living Sober

Last updated January 9, 2013

The power of animals to lift our spirits is well-understood. Nothing can melt away the stress of a long day quite like the sight of happy dog wagging its tail or the gentle nuzzle of a beloved cat.  Animals enrich millions of lives every day, but their place isn’t just limited to at-home companionship. Working with animals—especially horses, in what is known as equine assisted therapy, has been shown to have some very positive impacts on recovering addicts.


Horses are unique animals—it takes time and patience to earn the trust of these majestic creatures.  In equine assisted therapy people learn to earn the animal’s trust and to trust the animal as well.  Working with horses can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially in people who are also dealing with a co-occurring disorder such as anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Through equine therapy participants build self-esteem and self-confidence and learn to meet the needs of another creature rather than solely focusing on themselves—a big part of the growth process in recovery.


Putting an animal’s needs before one’s own has been shown to help people in recovery socially, as respect, responsibility and caring are as essential in relationships between people as they are in relationships between horses and people.


Northbound Treatment Services believes in the restorative powers of equine therapy and maintains its own private equestrian center in Southern California.  Pairing equine assisted therapy with traditional 12-step and individual and group counseling is part of what makes Northbound’s rehab treatment program so effective.  Click here for more information about our treatment options.

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