Your Path To Healing Starts at Mt. Sinai
a woman participating in equine therapy

How Can Equine Therapy Help in Addiction Recovery?

Equine therapy—also referred to as equine-assisted therapy (EAT)—is a growing area of therapeutic care. It involves interacting with horses in a structured environment, often in the presence of a licensed equine therapist, to promote mental health and social well-being.

While initially, this might simply sound like an opportunity to ride a horse, most standardized equine therapies are unmounted—instead focusing on the care of these intelligent and social animals. This care can include feeding, bathing, petting, grooming, and gently leading the horse. Because horses are herd-based prey animals, they have a reputation for being skittish and are highly sensitive to both verbal and nonverbal cues. This means that trust must be earned, so participants need to work to build a relationship.

Potential benefits of equine therapy include:

  • Stronger communication skills—both verbal and non-verbal
  • Improved confidence
  • Relationship and trust building
  • Increased ability to create and enforce boundaries
  • Enhanced resiliency, focus, and problem-solving
  • Improved emotional awareness, regulation tactics, and impulse control

Who Is a Good Candidate for Equine Therapy?

Just like any therapy treatment, equine therapy is a highly individual experience and might not be for everyone. Typically, it is used to assist in the treatment of those suffering from:

  • Trauma
  • Addiction
  • PTSD and other stress-related disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance-use disorders
  • Relationship issues

One of the best ways to know if you are a good candidate for equine therapy is to reach out to a qualified facility. They will walk you through your options and whether you need to be actively enrolled in a rehabilitation program to qualify.

Equine Therapy Techniques

When you decide to participate in equine therapy, you might be surprised to learn that there are a variety of techniques utilized to ensure the right treatment for your specific needs.

There are multiple approaches to this innovative therapy, three of the most popular include:

  1. Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL): By participating in activities that focus on daily tasks that maximize the health and welfare of the horse, this technique is designed to establish strong bonds while creating healthy habit-building.
  2. Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP): In addition to working with your horse and an equine specialist, a mental health professional is also on-site to offer an added layer of emotional and social support.
  3. Therapeutic Horseback Riding: Working both on the ground and on horseback, this style is often used to increase confidence, conquer fears, and create an outdoor activity that incorporates motor skills and relationship building.

It is important to note that equine therapy rarely occurs in isolation—often being paired with traditional therapy, support groups, and/or addiction recovery treatments.

Is Equine Therapy Covered by Insurance?

Many addiction and mental health treatments are covered by insurance, but specifics vary on both a facility basis and a plan-by-plan basis. At Mount Sinai Wellness Center, we work with multiple insurances, including Aetna, Cigna, Blue Cross | Blue Shield, Highmark, Optum, New Directions, United Healthcare, and more. Our holistic, and often dual diagnoses, addiction treatments can include equine therapy for truly comprehensive care.

If you are in Georgia and are interested in learning more about equine therapy, contact our compassionate team at Mount Sinai Wellness Center. Call us at (800) 353-4673 or fill out our brief online contact form.