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Can Animals Truly Be Therapeutic?

man relaxes with therapy cat

It’s hard to imagine that animals can do so many wondrous things for us therapeutically, but they truly can. Think about the last time you had a pet or visited a friend who had one. How did you feel when they came up to greet you? How much love were you able to embrace when taking care of a dog, a cat, or even after visiting a beautiful horse ranch? Animals have the capability to make us feel accepted and nonjudged – and for those who’ve had to experience stigma and overall stress of recovering from addiction, animal therapy can not only be relaxing, but can provide a safe space for a person to get to know themselves in a new light.

In a 2016 study titled, “More Than Just a Break From Treatment: How Substance Use Disorder Patients Experience the Stable Environment of Horse-Assisted Therapy”, the authors explored the sense of identity formation that was supported for those in recovery – just by caring for and being around horses. In 2015, The Fix, a website that publishes information on addiction and recovery, explained that scientists sometimes call the increased trust and sense of vulnerability in animal therapy the “bonding hormone” – which refer to the heightened levels of oxytocin in humans which increase intimacy and trust and decrease fear. Dr. Margaret Nepps, a clinical psychologist in Pennsylvania, stated that these instances help people feel more normal – which helps them to open up more with their emotions.

There are so many incredible benefits of equine therapy (also known as horse assisted therapy), which is offered here at The Arbor:

·    Horses are quite vulnerable creatures who are constantly scanning their surroundings for potential danger – and those in recovery who’ve gone through trauma will find that they’re easily able to relate

·    Interaction with horses can get those in recovery moving, which releases stress

·    By taking care of a horse, a person can “regain” that sense of feeling needed – and this nurturement often sparks a greater feeling of confidence in a person

Arbor Behavioral Healthcare offers an integrative and holistic approach to treat substance abuse and a wide variety of addictions, as well as underlying mental health and psychological issues. All of the addiction recovery programs offered by The Arbor are designed to heal the mind, body, and spirit leading to a lifetime of sobriety, health and wellness. If you’re ready to find healing and restoration in a peaceful, loving environment, please call us today at 844-560-7269.