Equine Therapy Options for Addiction Treatment

Covenant Hills uses a 60-day treatment model in which clients progress from a highly-structured Residential Treatment environment under 24-hour supervision to a less structured setting.

Equine-Assisted Therapy for Addiction Treatment

Covenant Hills is proud to offer program participants the opportunity to participate in equine-assisted therapy.  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.

What to Expect
Equine therapy is not horseback riding; rather, 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 how to emotionally connect with the animals.  The group facilitator then leads participants through a variety of experiential exercises which are tailored to meet the unique needs of the group.  Exercises encourage group members to utilize expressive tools or activities to recreate situations from past and present relationships, assist participants to connect to underlying emotions and address topics such as trust-building, communication, historical trauma or relational concerns.

Efficacy
Covenant Hills believes in utilizing evidence-based practices for the treatment of substance use disorders and dual diagnoses issues.  Studies have been conducted showing equine-assisted therapy to be useful in the treatment of 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 the live in the present and an increase in self-efficacy.

Equine-Assisted Therapy

Equine-Assisted Therapy Quick Look:

1

How does equine therapy help?

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.
2

Do clients ride the horses?

Clients do not get on the horses. Instead, therapy includes ground-work exercises that allow participants the opportunity to gain self-knowledge through the immediate feedback horses provide with non-verbal cues.
3

Does it work?

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 the live in the present and an increase in self-efficacy.

Proven Results
At Covenant Hills

Our residential treatment centers provide a comfortable, home-like living environment. Both living and treatment settings are gender-separate and gender-specific.

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