The use of horses in therapy has proven helpful in getting people to “open up” to their feelings. This is especially true for men who suffer from trauma and grief.
Oscar is a 53 year-old ironworker who was a 9/11 first responder and a long time heroin addict. He had been in and out of 30-day treatment programs for years. He came to Arrowhead Lodge with a bit of a defiant attitude and unwilling to give up his daily dosage of benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety. During his first few weeks in equine therapy, Oscar watched from afar as the other clients participated in the corral with the horses. Eventually Oscar joined them and over time came to eagerly anticipate equine therapy as he became more open and trusting to the therapeutic process.
In time, Oscar was able to give up his benzo prescriptions and fully engage in therapy. After our 90-day program he stepped down to sober living and outpatient therapy, and found employment – benzo free. He is a much-changed man and is a mentor to others. Equine therapy helped Oscar learn to be in touch with his emotions that had been shut off since 9/11. He remains clean and sober.
It is for men like Oscar that Arrowhead Lodge uses equine therapy. Through this modality, men learn to trust, improve their self-confidence, are better able to access their emotions and become more involved in their overall program participation.
A master’s level licensed professional counselor, who also holds equine therapy certification, facilitates this part of the Arrowhead Lodge program. Equine therapy is not only therapeutic; it is an enjoyable outdoors experience.