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The Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy for Teens with Mental Illness

By August 9, 2023August 11th, 2023Therapy

Mental health encompasses one’s emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing, and is an essential component of overall health. According to the American Psychiatric Association, mental illnesses are defined as “health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these).” Mental illness is highly common among teenagers in the United States. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) asserts that in the United States “at least one in five youth aged 9-17 years currently has a diagnosable mental health disorder that causes some degree of impairment; one in ten has a disorder that causes significant impairment.” Every young person is unique, and each may present with a distinct combination of symptoms, often in direct relation to age, biological makeup, and type of mental health disorder, as well as benefit most from an individualized mental health treatment plan.


Equine-Assisted Therapy

Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAP), also known as horse therapy or equine-assisted psychotherapy, is a form of experiential therapy that involves interactions between teenagers and horses to promote physical and/ or emotional healing. This type of therapy has revealed promising results in helping teens with mental illness overcome challenges and improve their overall well-being, as according to Verywell Mind, EAP facilitates:

  • Assertiveness
  • Confidence
  • Developing and maintaining relationships
  • Emotional awareness
  • Empathy
  • Impulse control
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Social skills
  • Trust in others
  • Trust in self

Equine-Assisted Therapy affords a teenager with the ability to work through some of the psychological and emotional challenges that he or she may not otherwise be able to tackle in a traditional therapy setting. Psychology Today explains that Equine-Assisted Therapy “provides unique non-verbal opportunities for the client to enhance self-awareness, recognize maladaptive behaviors, identify negative feelings, and face self-defeating cognitions.” Placing dual foci on engaging the brain and body, a fundamental aspect of EAP, in the therapeutic process can strengthen the therapeutic alliance, which is directly linked to treatment outcome. In one representative study, adolescents showed increased confidence, self-esteem, assertiveness, emotional regulation, and resourcefulness because of engaging in EAP. Research shows that Equine-Assisted Therapy is effective for treating adolescents experiencing depression, anxiety, and/ or trauma-related symptoms, as well as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), dissociative disorders, and other mental health diagnoses.


For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.


Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.




We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

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