One of the biggest barriers for teens trying to maintain healthy relationships is learning how to communicate emotions effectively. Many teens feel out of touch with their emotions, try to hide how they feel from others, and struggle to recognize nonverbal cues that help them read other people’s emotions. While they may feel isolated from their peers, connecting with animals, like horses, during equine therapy can teach teens relationship skills that they can apply to other relationships.
What is Equine Therapy?
Equine therapy usually involves grooming, feeding, haltering, and leading horses rather than riding them. During students’ interactions with the horses, our EAGALA-certified equine specialists observe and interact with students in order to identify behavior patterns and process their thoughts and emotions. As students learn to identify and take care of the horses’ needs, they learn how to be present in relationships and to recognize their own social needs. Equine therapy is an effective form of experiential therapy that is used to treat individuals who struggle with learning differences, low self-esteem, depression, trauma, anger problems, social skills, and behavioral issues.
Horses are very sensitive to communication, both verbal and non-verbal, meaning they act as a powerful emotional mirror that helps to demonstrate the importance of controlling our emotions, setting boundaries, and building healthy relationships. As herd and prey animals, they have a strong emotional sense and use this as a survival tool, by responding to other horses’ emotions and never hiding their own. By reflecting emotions they sense in others, it can help students to identify their own underlying emotions and understanding that by walking away or being stubborn, horses are detecting their own fear and anger. Sensing a horse’s helplessness may bring up memories of sharing the same experience and open up conversations about their own past.
Resolving Attachment Issues
Many of the horses have had histories of attachment issues and can empathize with many of the issues our students are struggling with. In order to build trust with horses, teens work on their own emotional awareness and control, self-esteem and self-care, and unhealthy relationship patterns in individual therapy and in equine sessions.
Some ways Equine Therapy helps teen heal from insecure attachment include:
- Improved communication and relationships
- Facing fears and past trauma
- Identifying unhealthy behaviors through mirroring
- Establishing connections
- Taking personal responsibility
- Giving back
blueFire Wilderness Can Help
blueFire Wilderness is a wilderness therapy program for teens, ages 11 to 17, grappling with depression, bullying, anxiety, addiction, and other emotional or behavioral problems.We incorporate adventure therapy and family therapy into the program to help students build confidence, improve communication skills, and gain leadership skills that help them repair relationships and rebuild trust with their parents. Our goal is to help teenagers rediscover their inner spark.
Call 1 (844) 413-1999 to learn more about equine therapy!