The Benefits of Equine Therapy for Overcoming Adolescent Trauma

Equine therapy can be especially helpful to adolescents and teens struggling to overcome trauma.

Here at The Heritage Community, our Elevate Academy helps students conquer symptoms brought on by a traumatic past. As a part of our comprehensive residential treatment program, we use evidence-based therapies shown in the research to be especially effective for troubled teens.

Among our therapeutic protocols, equine therapy is not only highly effective, but it is also a favorite of our students’ year after year.

equine therapy

What Is Equine Therapy?

Although on the surface, our equine programs may appear to be about learning to work with and care for the horses, equine assisted therapy (EAT) is about helping our students develop core competencies.

For adolescents and teens — particularly those who have experienced significant trauma — traditional talk therapy does not work well. A stilted, clinical environment and the need for direct, one-on-one interaction with an adult therapist tends to make posttraumatic teens shut down and refuse to engage.

When our Elevate Academy students interact with the horses, however, all their resistance tends to fade away. Communication with horses is nonverbal; it relies on body language and emotion rather than conversation.

How Does Equine Therapy Benefit Our Students?

Improved communication skills, problem-solving and increased self-confidence are just some of the ways that EAT helps our students.

Through working with horses, teens learn to think creatively and thrive in a team environment. They develop leadership skills and hone their work ethic at the same time. Students engage physically, mentally and emotionally when working with horses, which forces them to focus on external stimuli rather than dwelling on negative or destructive thought patterns. In equine therapy, students learn to trust, but also to inspire trust. They develop a sense of accountability and self-efficacy.

How Elevate Academy Uses Equine Therapy

Elevate Academy employs this experiential therapy under the direct supervision of treatment professionals and team members dedicated to the care and well-being of our horses.

Because horses respond to the emotions and body language of the students, these interactions task each student to engage with openness and honesty they may not yet have the ability to display with other people — especially adults.

For many of our post-trauma students, equine therapy is the first step in overcoming feelings of isolation. Ultimately, the skills students learn when working with our horses set them on the path to independence and accountability.

Elevate Academy offers comprehensive residential treatment in a dynamic and engaging setting. Our program combines academics, adventure, sports, recreation and structured social engagement with therapeutic treatment programs developed specifically for each student. We focus on the CORE of our students to Challenge, Overcome, Restore and Engage them in pursuit of positive outcomes.

Contact The Heritage Community today to learn more about our northern Utah Elevate Academy and to discuss how our equine therapy and related programs can help your troubled adolescent or teen.