First Steps is proud to offer a diverse selection of therapies and treatments to their clients. The process of recovery is an individual experience; each client is different, and may respond better to one therapy than another. Offering a full spectrum of therapies also engages the whole person: Body, mind and spirit. This approach leads to a more successful outcome.

Using Animal Therapy
man and his horse

The connection between humans and animals has been well documented throughout history. People have relied on animals for companionship, assistance and protection for thousands of years. Animals are highly sensitive and perceptive, and seem to have an almost sixth sense when it comes to humans and their emotions.

In addition, animals have a naturally accepting nature that many people find soothing. They don’t care who you are, what you look like, what you have or don’t have, etc. This unconditional acceptance has a way of putting people at ease. People who have a difficult time opening up and trusting others often find themselves much more relaxed when animals are present.

What Is Equine Therapy for Addiction Treatment?

Although just about any animal can have a therapeutic effect, the two animals that are most often utilized in this setting are dogs and horses. There are two ways this is generally done. One is through animal companionship. This may be as simple as spending time with the animal, interacting with it and caring for it. This may be done in conjunction with a counseling session, as the presence of the animal can help a client to open up or feel more comfortable. In other situations, there may be specific exercises carried out with the help of a clinician.

In equine therapy, the client, supervised by a clinician and equine therapy specialist, will carry out specific tasks with the horse designed to build trust, awareness, confidence and leadership skills. Horses are highly intelligent animals, and have a strong sense of awareness when it comes to a person’s mood. If a person is frightened, angry, sad or anxious, the horse senses it and will respond. This creates an instant feedback which results in the person altering their behavior to produce a different response in the horse. This makes horses excellent for managing anger, working through fears and developing impulse control.

Equine therapy has been around for years, and serves a variety of populations. From working with children who have behavior issues, autism and other developmental disabilities, to working with vets suffering from PTSD, equine therapy has been helping people to make genuine progress in their lives.

For people who have trauma, anxiety and stress, spending time with horses is ideal. Studies have shown that being in the presence of a horse actually changes brainwave patterns, lowers blood pressure and promotes relaxation.

Why Equine Therapy For Addiction?

People who come into treatment frequently struggle with interpersonal relationships, social skills, self-esteem and impulse control. The process of talk therapy is often slow going, especially for those who have trust issues or who have difficulty verbalizing their feelings. Activities such as equine therapy seem to alleviate many of these issues. As the client becomes more comfortable with the horse, confidence grows. The relationship of mutual trust that is developed between horse and rider paves the way toward increased trust and rapport with counselors and peers.man kissing a horse

First Steps equine therapy program takes place once a week, and the horses are brought to the property by an experienced trainer. The equine therapy program is popular with the clients, who look forward to the weekly sessions with the horses in the beautiful and serene outdoor setting.

Equine therapy is just one of many therapies that clients of First Steps get to experience. In addition to individual counseling and group therapy, activities such as equine therapy means that our clients get a comprehensive treatment experience that truly helps them grow and heal while experiencing the unique challenges and rewards of early recovery.

Getting Help With First Steps

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, our program can help. We offer comprehensive treatment that is tailored to individual needs. Our facility is set in beautiful, natural surroundings just outside Yosemite National Park. Call 1-844-BIG-STEP today to find out more.