At a time when people are at their most vulnerable, it is amazing what benefits can be derived from therapeutic methods that combine healthy activity and interaction with animals. This is the heart of Northbound’s equine therapy program.
Northbound Treatment Services maintains a private, exclusive Equestrian Center situated on the border of LA, Orange, and Inland Empire Counties. The Center boasts 28 acres of beautiful riding trails and streams. On the grounds sit a stunning covered pavilion, mature trees, great pockets of shade and historic stables, making this the perfect setting for the individual in recovery. Our residents enjoy year round access to these beautiful surroundings while engaged in experiential activities, equine therapy and other relaxing activities.
Northbound offers equine therapy on a bi-weekly basis at the private Northbound Equestrian Center. Equine therapy should not be confused with simple riding or riding lessons. Rather, it is a structured therapeutic interaction with horses. Also called equine facilitated learning, equine therapy is the discipline of using horses as a means to provide metaphoric experiences in order to promote emotional growth. Clients have the opportunity to interact with the horse, and the way the client approaches and interacts with the animal is usually representative of their feelings and methods of communication in other areas of their life.
The goal of equine therapy is to help the individual discover for himself some of the feelings, thoughts and behaviors that may not be as readily discovered without an experiential activity. Equine therapy programs are a great opportunity for clients who have trouble or resistance expressing themselves and being sociable. The horses provide an excellent way for these otherwise therapy-resistant clients to react and begin to process their emotions.
An expert in the field of equine facilitated learning, Franklin Levinson, states, “It’s been clinically proven that just being in the vicinity of a horse changes our brainwave patterns. They have a calming effect which helps stop people from becoming fixated on past or negative events-giving them a really positive experience.” This simple concept has been shown to have significant positive results when applied to individuals in treatment for chemical dependency, including important psychological and social benefits.
A positive interaction with another living creature can help patients improve self-esteem, self-confidence and create a feeling of general well-being. In caring for a horse, clients are forced to recognize and meet the needs of another being, developing a healing sense of connection and responsibility. The horses can also break down the feeling of isolation that someone suffering from a co-occurring disorder may feel toward other humans.
Clients are encouraged to be assertive in their interaction with the horse and learn to communicate in a way that the horse recognizes and responds to while building mutual trust. The trust that is built between a horse and individual helps in breaking through many patients’ psychological barriers that may not be as easily breached in traditional psychotherapy.
When a client develops a relationship with a horse, it can also assist him in learning how to interact with other human beings as well. How the patient approaches the horse becomes synonymous with how he or she approaches other things and persons in life. The qualities of respect, responsibility and caring are as vital for a relationship with a horse as they are for successful interaction in society. Equine therapy has been successfully used to rehabilitate individuals who had previously seen themselves as social outcasts.
When correctly taught by certified therapists, equine therapy has been shown to have a number of positive benefits, including:
- Decreased Isolation
- Impulse Control
- Social Skills
- Spiritual Connection
With the wide range of benefits and evidence of positive outcomes offered by equine assisted learning, Northbound is proud to be able to make it part of our comprehensive therapy menu. When combined with the traditional forms of therapy offered through the Northbound Living Sober Phase System, the results are compelling and the visible change in the client is profound.
Because this therapy occurs at a private facility with a small group of Northbound clients, it is a unique and exceptional program that separates Northbound from other treatment centers in the area.
Northbound’s dedication to the effective and creative use of experiential therapies like equine therapy is just one factor that makes us different. To see if Northbound is right for you or your loved one, go to: Are We Right for You?
“For once in my life I got honest with a couple of individuals, and with that, I grew tremendously” - Alex
“(Rehab) worked for me this time, and I owe it to everyone here. Now I am a staff member and I get to give back to clients coming in.” - Julian
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