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Equine Therapy in Orange County California

Equine Therapy in Orange County

Covenant Hills is proud to offer participants the opportunity to participate in equine-assisted therapy in our Orange County center. Groups are facilitated by a licensed marriage and family therapist at a facility situated along the hillside in beautiful San Juan Capistrano.

As stated by the Program Director, “Horses reveal, react to and mirror what is going on with the physical, emotional and mental state of people in their environment.” The program is designed to address a variety of conditions, including mood and anxiety disorders, trauma and substance use disorders and assists participants with enhancing self-esteem, self-efficacy and emotional regulation.

Equine therapy in orange county CA for addiction

How Effective Is Equine Therapy for Addiction Treatment?

Covenant Hills believes in utilizing evidence-based practices to treat substance use disorders and dual diagnoses issues. Studies have been conducted showing equine-assisted therapy to help treat depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Equine therapy has additionally been shown to improve therapeutic alliance, reduce stress and improve relationships.

A 2016 study published in Addiction Science and Clinical Practice on the efficacy of equine therapy in substance use disorder treatment noted that “participants were able to construct a positive self—one that is necessary, is accepted, can cope with challenges and be achieved: more fundamentally, a self that is different from the “patient” receiving treatment for a problem or disease.”

A 2007 study by Klontz et al. showed significant and stable improvement in psychological well-being and an overall decrease in psychological symptoms and the intensity of psychological distress. Participants in this study reported feeling less troubled by resentments and regrets, more able to live in the present, and increased self-efficacy.

Equine therapy in orange county CA for addiction

What to Expect from Equine Therapy

Equine therapy is not horseback riding; instead, it includes ground-work exercises that allow participants the opportunity to gain self-knowledge through the immediate feedback horses provide with non-verbal cues.Equine therapy sessions begin by acclimating program participants to the space, teaching the skills necessary to remain safe around the horses, and providing psychoeducation on emotionally connecting with the animals. The group facilitator then leads participants through a variety of experiential exercises tailored to meet the group’s unique needs.

Exercises encourage group members to utilize expressive tools or activities to recreate situations from past and present relationships, assist participants in connecting to underlying emotions, and address topics such as trust-building, communication, historical trauma, or relational concerns.

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