While the benefits of human intervention in managing disability are undeniably proven, the benefits of using animals specifically horses are rapidly growing as well. In this article, we will be taking equine-assisted therapy-its benefits and how to access it using your NDIS funds. Now, what is equine-assisted therapy?
According to (dictionary.com), the word “equine” means relating to or resembling a horse or other member of the horse family. In other words, equine-assisted therapy is a therapy that includes horses with the help or assistance of a psychologist or counselor. The therapist is specifically trained in Equine Assisted Therapy plus immense training in the mental health field. This often involves equine activities like:
observing, handling, grooming, groundwork, and structured challenging exercises focused on the participant’s current needs and goals.
Horses do not just make you happy, they make you mentally and emotionally healthy:
· They are non-judgmental and unbiased- successful therapy sessions are built on trust, a horse offers a sense of peace, as they only will react to the client's behavior and emotions with no threat of bias or any judgment of their emotional experience
· Horses are good at mirroring, they have a high sense of emotions and they easily adapt to it. Having said this, it goes to show that horses have the capacity to convey understanding and connection which gives a safe and secured environment to the participant
· Unconditional acceptance, horses offer comfort to those who felt rejected and oppressed as they are naturally accepting
· Genuinely affectionate- for individuals experiencing high physiological anxiety levels, this characteristic of the horse alley these emotions
Some other potential benefits of equine therapy include:
Anxiety reduction- With the help of a trained therapy horse whose genuineness and affection help reduce anxiety and anxiety-related issues
Emotional and self -awareness
Improves self-esteem- as the individual completes the goal-focused activities with the horse, it displaces negative self-perception and turns it into boosting self-esteem and self-confidence. This empowers the individual to take on more challenging tasks and even more so handle real-life problems
Improves social awareness-allows the individual to develop not only self-awareness but also being aware of the environment. Since dealing with horses require shared responsibility, it trains the individual to be socially aware of the needs of other people/beings
Improves social relationships-being able to deal with acceptance without judgment and bias from the horse, it gives back the faith and confidence of an individual to try interacting and soon build or rebuild relationships with other people. It also supports children in learning appropriate non-verbal and verbal communication like receiving and understanding positive and negative feedback. This paves the way for a socially isolated or withdrawn individual to be more positive and open to social relationships.
Establishes routine and structure-as horses need to be taken care of, this teaches the individual to follow some routines like feeding, grooming, and the likes
Improves communication- because horses are sensitive to non-verbal communication, this allows the individual to develop greater awareness of their emotions, the non-verbal cues that they may be communicating, and the critical role of non-verbal communication in relationships.
Restoration of trust-the first step in this therapy is building rapport with the horse, and rapport is founded in trust. By slowly creating a bond between the individual and the horse, it fosters an environment of a renewed trust.
Less stressful friendships-horses are generally non-judgemental and because of this, it gives them the confidence to the individual that he/she has a trusted peer who relates with him/her without being judges
Reduced aggression-as individuals need to approach the horse calmly, it will slowly promote impulse regulation
What conditions benefit from equine-assisted therapy? The following are the most common but are not limited to :
· Anxiety and its related conditions like anxiety disorder, panic disorder, separation anxiety, phobias, social anxiety disorder
· Post-traumatic stress disorder/PTSD
Autism spectrum disorder
Traumatic brain injury
What are the different types of Equine Assisted Therapy?
1. Equine-assisted psychotherapy-also called equestrian therapy which is designed to support people with mental health issues
2. Equine-assisted learning-promotes development of life, professional and education-related skills
3. Hippotherapy-a rehabilitative treatment to support coordination and posture
4.Therapeutic horseback riding-intended to improve coordination, posture, and balance Equine-assisted psychotherapy-also called equestrian therapy which is designed to support people with mental health issues
Equine Assisted Therapy and the NDIS
When you request funding, it is important that it is grounded on your NDIS goals. It may be funded in two ways depending on what you stipulated during your plan meeting, it could be under Core supports budget or capacity-building support budget.
If you feel that Equine Assisted Therapy will benefit you, talk to your LAC or support coordinator so that they may guide you on what to do.
Do you have an NDIS fund and in need of a reliable service provider which offers Equine Assisted Therapy? Get Plan Managed with Yogi Care and access NDIS-registered and non-registered service providers.