Consumer Health News
Horses help recovery patients at Promises in Malibu
By April MacIntyre Apr 5, 2011, 5:38 GMT
EAP is an ideal compliment to conventional therapy. Horses are non-judgmental and have no expectations or motives. Like humans, horses have individual distinct personalities and respond in reaction to a client\'s emotional state or to their behavior.
Promises Treatment Center in Malibu is using horses to help their patients who are recovering from addictions.
According to Promises' Director, Dr. David Sack, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is the professional field in which horses, used as tools, provide metaphorical experiences to promote emotional growth and learning. Equine therapy is an integral, non-compulsary element of the treatment at Promises.
EAP is an ideal compliment to conventional therapy. Horses are non-judgmental and have no expectations or motives. Like humans, horses have individual distinct personalities and respond in reaction to a client's emotional state or to their behavior.
Horses are large and can be intimidating to many people. Working with horses creates a natural opportunity for clients to overcome fear and enables clients to learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, then processing or discussing feeling, behaviors, and patterns displayed during the activity.
EAP is neither riding nor horsemanship, but a collaborative effort between the Treatment Team – a horse, a Licensed Professional, and an Equine Specialist.
In fact, 100% of EAP takes place on the ground. The focus of EAP involves weekly activities, using the horses, which require the client or group to apply certain skills. Clients take responsibility, confront situations, recognize non-verbal communication, apply creative thinking and problem-solving techniques, and understand teamwork and relationships, all while building self-confidence.
EAP addresses behavioral issues, attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorder, abuse issues, depression, anxiety, relationship problems and communication needs.
I asked Dr. Sack why horses were so good for the healing of anyone struggling with addictive issues.
Dr. Sack says, "Horses are interesting for therapy because they are prey animals as opposed to predator animals. They are less trusting of people and not especially drawn to our company. As a result the emotional experience a client has with a horse is nearly all about the client and not the horse."
"Horses are honest, and have an underlying ability to hear and teach. They provide unconditional acceptance, experience a variety of emotions and deliver immediate feedback that is observable and honest making them especially powerful messengers."
"Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals. They prefer to be with their peers and like to have fun. They have distinct personalities, attitudes, and moods. Horses also have defined roles and a variety of characteristics within their herds and that are directly related to human interaction."
"Horses are responsive to nonverbal stimuli providing valuable and visible lessons in nonverbal communication and body language. Often, many people will complain, 'The horse is stubborn. The horse doesn’t like me.' But the lesson to be learned is that if they change their own behavior, the horse will respond in kind."