Equine Assisted Therapy
Partnering with Horses in the 12 Steps to Recovery at Montrose.
Horses NEVER lie! As pack and prey animals, horses have evolved to be incredibly attuned to the emotions of those around them, and when a horse and an equine assisted therapist get together, it results in a powerfully revealing therapeutic process.
A horse is a large and imposing animal - and working with a horse requires a physical and emotional response. You don't have much time to think - you just do.
For many in addiction recovery, an intellectualization of our problems inhibits growth and lasting recovery. We think ourselves into believing that others are the cause of our problems, and it can be quite tough for a therapist to convince us otherwise, in a conventional therapeutic environment.
But in the stable, far removed from the office and couch of "talk therapy" we demonstrate our characters and problems in a physical and emotional way. We show others what's impeding our growth, and it's often a very personally revealing process.
Blocks to Recovery
Emotional - not intellectual
We experience the reality of making choices and projecting attitudes thereby enabling us to own the problem and take responsibility for our own recovery. Through teaching us awareness, integrity, respect and trust, the horses’ show us a different way of relating with others, our environment and ourselves.
You can lie to your therapist, but a horse only accepts the truth! Horses are said to mirror the human soul. If you approach a horse in anger, the horse gets stubborn. If you act fearfully, the horse acts concerned, and if you show anxiety, the horse gets worried. We can hide our inner feelings pretty well from those around us, but horses always spot us for who we are - and the horses that will mirror our feelings, have no interest in hiding theirs.
In summary, Equine Assisted Therapy is a powerful short term approach that affects the real and lasting change necessary for a successful journey in recovery.
Overcoming blocks to recovery
At Montrose, we apply Equine Assisted Therapy as a powerful tool to apply the Twelve Steps, and to get patients ‘out of their heads and into their hearts and bodies.' Intellectualizing is a major block to recovery for many individuals and being able to break through this is huge for many patients.
This assists patients in getting in touch with their emotions and feelings. Many patients have avoided feeling emotions for so long that they don't know how to anymore. Through working with horses, feelings of fear, anger, resentment, sadness, loneliness, joy and peace are brought to surface.
How does Equine Assisted Psychotherapy work at Montrose Place ?
The client will be asked to interact with a horse, and asked to perform simple activities on the ground, using various pieces of equipment. As we perform this task, and interact with the horse, the therapist and specialist observe closely, and by watching the horse, learn something about us!
After the interaction, the therapist will take what was observed and use it as a basis for discussion and treatment. This also occurs in a group setting, in which case the entire group will discuss what was revealed through the interaction.
We are often reluctant to talk about our deep fears and problems, and sometimes we are not even consciously aware of them. After a brief interaction with a horse, our characters are shown, and therapy can reach to the heart of our challenges and needs.
This all occurs un-mounted, there is no riding involved, and it is an emerging treatment for people suffering an addiction to drugs or alcohol.