Equine TherapieEquine-Assisted Learning and Therapy
Fraser Valley Treatment Center is pleased to be offering Equine Therapy as part of it’s program.
The opposite of addiction is connection!
It is sometimes said that “the opposite of addiction is connection.” A relationship with a horse can help to provide the emotional “safe space” that humans crave — an authentic, non-judgemental, heart-to-heart connection — when willing and capable humans are unavailable to them, or when prevented by their mistrust of well-intended peers and professionals.
To an uncomfortable, suspicious, or resisting patient, a horse can be a less threatening presence than the typical health care provider. Despite their immense size, humans innately assume that horses do not harbour the potential hidden motives that humans are capable of. They naturally create a casual atmosphere, with indirect therapeutic pressure, for the creation of a less daunting experience than conventional clinical practice. In fact, it is possible that such a novel and rewarding setting can help trigger the various bio-chemical releases conducive of lasting neuro-plastic change in the human brain.
That being said, any close-encounter with a horse requires a human to enforce their personal boundaries in a compassionate manner; this is not a matter of brutish domination or conditioned animal training — horses are a highly cooperative, social species that actually respect each other in the herd, and any human, when there are clear “rules” to their interactions. Thus they create safety and harmony in a group. Hence, working with a horse is a wonderful course in leadership and communication; it can teach controlling or combative personalities to relax, be assertive as opposed to aggressive, cooperative instead of competitive. Alternatively, it can help submissive personalities to build the self-confidence required to have their needs met by others, as they become comfortable making requests and giving direction.
To communicate with a horse, the human must learn to see the world through the horse’s perspective; they must come to understand their driving motivation and concerns, and how to address them, in order to create their special human-horse bond. In essence, it is a practice in deep empathy. To learn the seemingly foreign language of non-verbal, visual-spatial “horse think and speak” can increase the social finesse of all people, even the articulate and gregarious among us.
Being around an animal as large, ultimately unpredictable, and immensely intuitive as a horse will demand that all humans in the vicinity practice impulse control, emotional regulation, intention setting, and conscious action, the very best they can considering their abilities; this will not only benefit their physical safety, but bestow former addicts and psychiatric patients with a strengthened cognitive skill-set to ensure their recovery at the clinic, and further success upon return to their life and relationships outside the treatment center.