The great scholar and philosopher, Saint Augustine, once said, “Will is to grace as the horse is to the rider.” There’s significant depth to this statement, but one kernel of truth within it is that the horse and the rider are inseparable. It also implies that making a real connection to something outside of oneself is akin to making a connection to the universe. Making an honest connection with a horse is akin to making a connection to a higher power. That is how strongly we feel about the benefits of equine-assisted therapy here at Clearview Girls Academy. It can bring us closer to God.
What Exactly Is Equine-Assisted Therapy?
Now, does all of that sound a bit grandiose? Perhaps to some. However, we have seen our equine-assisted therapy program help countless of our students recover. Many of these students did not believe recovery was possible for themselves. Equine-assisted therapy offers significantly more than a religious or spiritual experience, though. Many aspects of equine-assisted therapy make it an ideal tool for mental health recovery.
First, it is important to get a grasp on what exactly is equine-assisted therapy. A base definition is offered by the American Psychological Association (APA), stating that “equine-assisted psychotherapy [is] a form of animal-assisted therapy in which a licensed mental health professional, in conjunction with an equine specialist, uses handling, grooming, and other activities with specially trained horses as part of psychological treatment for those with emotional and behavioral problems.”
There are two key takeaways from that description. One is that this therapy requires guidance from a mental health professional, and two is that it is meant to address multiple aspects of mental health. These multiple aspects include psychological, emotional, and behavioral components.
The Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy
There are many benefits to be gained from equine-assisted therapy. Because the benefits can be so vast, we will limit our discussion to five specific benefits:
- Stress reduction
- Communication building
- Learning problem-solving skills
- Getting closer to self-actualization
- Becoming a more responsible young woman
If an equine-assisted therapy program garners even one of these outcomes for a student that cannot be achieved through other means, it is a win. Equine therapy could be the difference between a temporary fix and a long-term recovery.
Being able to commit to a set schedule and a set program can work wonders for stress reduction. For teens, a lot of stress arises out of feeling a lack of control. That control can be regained by adhering to a schedule and tending to the needs of another being.
It is also true that spending time in and interacting with nature has been shown to reduce stress levels. This also overlaps with the communication benefits of equine-assisted therapy discussed next.
Many of the students who come to stay with us here at Clearview Girls Academy are struggling with a breakdown of communication. Primarily this happens between them and figures of authority such as parents, teachers, and even law enforcement officers.
Often it takes more than simple verbal communication to rebuild these skills. By learning nonverbal communication via equine-assisted therapy, a young woman can learn to empathize and anticipate without overcomplicating her reactions. Horse-human interaction can also decrease an individual’s insecurities and help them build self-confidence.
Learning Problem-Solving Skills
While it is true that caring for a horse involves a lot of scheduling and set procedures, there are also times when one must anticipate and adjust. This is when problem-solving skills can be acquired.
For example, if a horse isn’t responding to a certain command or cue, it becomes the participant’s job to discover why and how to rectify the situation. Also, solving an issue by oneself can be the ultimate confidence builder.
Getting Closer to Self-Actualization
Part of existing on this planet is discovering what we are here for and what we can contribute. Our goal is to find out how we fit into this world.
Many of our students have lost this drive for self-discovery. By discovering how they can make a change in one being’s life, they realize how they can positively impact the world around them. This not only allows students to become closer to themselves, but we believe it allows them to get closer to God in the process.
This last benefit, acquiring responsibility, is as straightforward as it sounds. In equine-assisted therapy, a living creature relies upon us for its entire well-being. By embracing that and standing up to the challenge, we not only discover responsibility but can see the results of that responsibility firsthand.
Lighting the Path at Clearview Girls Academy
Saint Augustine also famously said that “In doing what we ought we deserve no praise, because it is our duty.” This is the duty our students assume through our equine-assisted therapy program. It also applies to our duty to help our students succeed.
Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we like to say that we light the path toward our students’ recovery. The beautiful creatures in our equine-assisted therapy program help carry them toward that light.
We have an exceptional equine-assisted therapy program here at Clearview Girls Academy. Our program has helped many of our students progress on their journey toward long-term recovery. This is because there are countless benefits that equine-assisted therapy can offer. Merely a few of these benefits are stress reduction, communication building, learning problem-solving skills, getting closer to self-actualization, and becoming a more responsible young woman. If you feel like your daughter or young woman in your life may be struggling with issues of mental health and/or life-controlling issues, they are not alone. You are not alone either. We can help. For more information on our equine-assisted therapy program, please reach out to Clearview Girls Academy today at (888) 796-5484.