Equine Therapy’s Effect on Teenage Mental Health and Resilience

Equine Therapy’s Effect on Teenage Mental Health and Resilience

Equine Therapy’s Effect on Teenage Mental Health and Resilience

We are excited to share more about a groundbreaking addition to our therapeutic offerings at ViewPoint Center— equine therapy. This addition introduces therapeutic interactions with our new on-campus horses, providing unique opportunities for growth and healing in the journey toward improved mental health.

Leading our teen equine therapy program is Clinical & Equine Director Brandon Burr,  LCSW,  a seasoned professional with a passion for combining the healing power of horses with therapeutic interventions. Brandon brings a wealth of experience with horses and a deep understanding of equine-assisted therapy, making him a guiding force in our students’ transformative journey.

Brandon sees equine therapy as a dynamic and integral component of mental health care. His dedication to expanding the horizons of therapeutic interventions is reflected in our success stories, where teens discover a profound connection with horses and, in turn, themselves. The equine therapy students consistently praise Brandon’s supportive and compassionate guidance. His ability to create a safe and nurturing space allows teens to embrace the transformative power of the horse-human connection.

Brandon also recognizes that equine therapy is a powerful catalyst for building resilience by providing students with unique opportunities to face challenges, navigate uncertainties, and develop essential coping skills. Through interactions with horses, students learn to adapt, persevere, and cultivate emotional strength, fostering a resilient mindset that extends into various aspects of their lives. 

The dynamic nature of equine therapy contributes to resilience-building in several key ways:

Facing Challenges in a Supportive Environment:

Engaging with horses presents participants with challenges that require patience, communication, and problem-solving. The supportive environment created in equine therapy allows individuals to confront these challenges, fostering a sense of accomplishment and building resilience in the face of adversity.

Immediate Feedback and Emotional Regulation:

Horses are highly responsive to human emotions, providing immediate feedback to individuals. This real-time interaction helps participants recognize and regulate their emotions effectively. Learning to manage emotional responses in the presence of horses translates into improved emotional resilience in everyday life.

Building Trust and Connection:

Establishing a bond with horses involves building trust and connection. This process mirrors the development of resilience in interpersonal relationships. As participants gain the trust of these majestic animals, they simultaneously build resilience by understanding the importance of trust, communication, and connection in navigating challenges.

Encouraging Flexibility and Adaptability:

Horses are wise animals that respond to non-verbal cues and subtle environmental changes. Interacting with them requires individuals to be flexible and adaptable, skills that are crucial for resilience. The ability to adjust to varying situations during equine therapy translates into a capacity to navigate life’s uncertainties with resilience.

Promoting Self-Reflection and Growth:

Equine therapy encourages self-reflection as individuals observe their emotional states reflected in the behavior of the horses. This reflective process fosters personal growth, self-awareness, and a deeper understanding of one’s strengths, contributing to the development of resilience in the face of life’s challenges.

Cultivating a Sense of Accomplishment:

Successfully engaging in activities with horses, whether setting up corrals, practicing groundwork, or gentling the animals, instills a sense of accomplishment. This positive reinforcement contributes to resilience by reinforcing that challenges can be overcome with patience, effort, and determination.

Equine therapy is a clinically proven method for building resilience and improving mental health by combining physical engagement with emotional introspection. The lessons learned in the corral extend far beyond, equipping students with the tools to navigate life’s challenges with confidence, strength, and a renewed sense of self.


Mental Health Conditions Supported by Equine Therapy

Some of the mental health conditions that can be treated with equine therapy include:

    1. Depression: Equine therapy has been found to be beneficial in alleviating symptoms of depression. The interaction with horses can help individuals develop a sense of purpose, build self-confidence, and improve their overall mood.
    2. Anxiety disorders: Equine therapy has been shown to reduce anxiety levels in individuals with various anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The calming effect of interacting with horses and being in a natural outdoor setting can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. 
    3. Eating disorders: There is evidence that equine therapy can be an effective support in treating eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. The responsibility and care involved in taking care of horses can help individuals develop more positive self-perceptions and improve their body image.
    4. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD): Equine therapy has been found to have positive effects on social skills, communication, and behavior in children with ASD. The non-verbal communication between humans and horses can help individuals with ASD learn how to communicate effectively and form relationships.
    5. Substance abuse disorders: Studies show equine therapy has been used as a complementary treatment for individuals with substance abuse disorders. The responsibility and bond that is formed with the horse can help individuals develop a sense of purpose and motivation to overcome their addiction. 

In addition, equine therapy has also been found to be effective in treating other mental health conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

Discover the profound benefits of equine therapy at ViewPoint Center and join us in creating a path to lasting well-being. Our expert-led program, under the guidance of Brandon Burr, offers a unique opportunity for teens to build resilience, develop essential life skills, and foster a deep connection with themselves and the world around them.