Monday, November 23, 2015

Another View of "Equine Therapy"

A Guest Blog from a Regular Reader:

I read with angst the recent Shoalanda Speaks article about the “Equine Therapy” and want to present a first-hand testimony, as our 16 year old daughter is a client of hers. To start with, here’s a few points about Animal Therapy: Studies have shown that non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking, problem solving and leadership are among the many skill sets that equine therapy help with. Children can receive so many positive benefits from Animal Assisted therapy. 

One study conducted in 2010 with children and therapy dogs found that the animals provide a social and emotional support system for the child, with assumptions that because the animal seems non-judgmental to the child, it is perceived as comforting, raises the child's self-esteem and makes it easier for the child to express themselves. 

Therapists rely on techniques such as monitoring a child’s behavior with animal, their tone of voice, and indirect interviewing. These techniques are used in order to gain information. Other benefits include releasing stress, increasing morale, increased calmness, decrease preoperative anxiety, improve patient outlook, reduce the need for preoperative medication, reduce fear and anxiety in patients with a psychiatric condition. After several years of stressful events in our lives, we started searching for treatment for our daughter to help her cope with issues that most adults couldn’t handle, much less a 14-16 year old. 

We started with her pediatrician and went to a Licensed Psychologist in Madison for nearly a year. This psychologist declared her “healed” from her depression and anxieties, when only two weeks prior, was recommending a psychiatrist and medication. Then witnessing our daughter slowly slide deeper into depression and higher anxieties, we decided to try Equine Therapy one time to see how she like it. 

The magic between some people and animals is truly astounding. And the stuffiness of sitting in a counselor’s office can be very intimidating, cold and impersonal. Our daughter has always had a passion for horses, and we have known the operator of Equine Therapy for quite some time. She has now been going for several months, at least twice a month, sometimes more if she is having a particularly bad day or week. She has NEVER shoveled ANYTHING, NEVER cleaned ANYTHING. The closest thing to “work” is brushing down the horses. 

They work together with these horses, who are rescues, getting them acclimated to people. Last week they worked on getting a lead rope & halter on a horse that has never had one on. To see the immediate change in our daughter’s disposition after playing with those horses for an hour is truly remarkable. She comes home relaxed, happy & smiling. Her entire demeanor is different for several days following. She always talks about what lesson the horses taught her each trip. The life lessons she’s bringing home are always very touching and opens up new avenues for us to discuss life’s issues with her.

If there is an outlet we can benefit from to keep our child from having to take medication, you better believe we are going to support it. So from these parents, we’ll take this “un-licensed” Equine Therapist over a Licensed anything, any day. She has truly been a God send to us, and we thank God every day to have her in our lives.



1 comment:

  1. I would be interested in reviewing the data of the number of children attending the above that lacked two parent involvement in the home, and the percentage of those children lacking two parent involvement due to a court order with divorced or never married parents. Many judges unduly restrict (with no evidence of parental unfitness) a child's time with one parent to less than 4 years out of the child's 19 years of minority at the behest of other parent under what is called 'standard visitation'. I am sure most animal therapy's would benefit troubled children, but suspect many single parents may have children spend time in animal therapy when the real issue is caused by the lack of fostering the child's relationship with the other parent.