Basically, the major benefits of Equine Assisted Therapy naturally derive from its main effects. To put it more precisely, the therapy challenges behavior and breaks down barriers to emotional growth. The effective implementation of the Equine Assisted Therapy implies that it will challenge patients in a non-threatening manner.
What is meant here is the fact that patients are conscious of the potential danger of horses since their physical supremacy may be really harmful to individuals who cannot treat them properly and people can be hurt occasionally.
In order to minimize such a threat the therapy is held under the guidance of professionals and patients are conscious that, in actuality, there is no real risk to their health either physical or mental.
Furthermore, the therapy rapidly breaks down defense barriers. In this respect, it is worthy to return to the concept mentioned above that horses do not lie. Naturally, people feel it when they observe horses, their reactions and how they evolve depending on the behavior of people. Moreover, they learn to interact and coordinate their own behavior in accordance with the responsive reactions of horses.
In such a way, Equine Assisted therapy also provides immediate cause and effect situation since people realize that everything is interdependent and their own actions and behavior affect their environment while horses serve only as models and metaphors of their social environment.
At the same time, it is hardly possible to underestimate the substantial impact of the therapy on emotional and psychological state of patients. It is obvious that the work with horses captivates and holds patients’ attention and in the course of treatment patients gradually change their dysfunctional patterns to successful ones. For instance, it can be a really great success that can totally change the personality of a patient if he/she, being initially ignored by a horse, manages to captivate its attention and eventually gains its benevolence.
Speaking about Equine Assisted Therapy, it is also worthy to remember about such benefits of this therapy as its time effectiveness since, as a rule, it is a short-term therapy though very effective one. Unlike, people, horses are non-judgmental and honest so patients can be open and honest to them as well and readily perceive horses’ responses to their actions and behavior.
It is also necessary to remember that Equine Assisted Therapy implies that such simple activities as the grooming process ”“ picking mud out of feed, untangling manes and tails and brushing the horse’s coat ”“ help patients to work on issues like nurturing, attention, asking for help, isolation, dependence, performance anxiety, connection and intimacy. Patients often find that these seemingly-simple activities lead to feelings of fear, inadequacy, anger and frustration and it is at this point, when emotions are high and defenses are low, that issues become obvious to the patient and therapist (McDaniel 1998). Working with a horse offers an excellent opportunity to explore new behaviors and experience new results, which has a swift and profound effect on patients that fosters personal growth and connection to the environment and peers.
Conclusion: perspectives of Equine Assisted Therapy in the treatment of addictions
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that at the present moment Equine Assisted Therapy is growing to be more and more popular. What is even more important is the fact that this therapy may be a really effective alternative to traditional talking therapies because it involves non-verbal communication and affects all five senses making people change their behavior, actions and more careful and attentive to their environment. As a result, it is possible to forecast that the development of Equine Assisted Therapy will progress, especially in the treatment of people with addiction because such patients particularly need substantial changes of their behavior and habits in ruder to learn new life skills and experience which could help them overcome their isolation and get used to readily face problems and difficulties of the real life, instead of escaping them in the illusionary world of their addictions. Anyway, the development of the modern society make human life increasingly more stressful and often traditional treatment of addictions by means of verbal communication turn to be ineffective and in the future this trend will grow stronger. Consequently, the further development of Equine Assisted Therapy is not just very perspective but practically inevitable.