Recovery Centre White River introduces equine therapy for addiction treatment
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Sometimes talking to humans is uncomfortable when you are struggling with an alcohol or drug addiction.
That’s when horses step in as part of an integrated treatment programme at Recovery Centre at White River. Ebrahim Behardien says equine therapy is another bow in their quiver to help residents build confidence and self-esteem, and recover from substance use disorder.
Recovery Centre at White River is located in a lush, tropical valley in Mpumalanga. The town is the gateway to the safari hub of South Africa, and is a short, scenic drive from the iconic Kruger National Park and the famous Panorama Route. The rehab centre is situated in a beautiful, 100-year old garden, where you’ll find residents playing volleyball, doing yoga, going on nature walks or lazing under shady trees next to the swimming pool.
The stunning countryside location offers Recovery Centre at White River the opportunity to integrate holistic therapies like equine therapy into their 3-month addiction treatment programme. Other therapeutic tools include mindfulness meditation, art and music therapy.
Guests are taken on day excursions to the Kruger Park for Big 5 game viewing, scenic tours of the Panorama Route, bungee jumping, elephant encounters, and cycling or hiking in the magnificent mountainous areas. These activities are designed to restore mind, body and soul and boost your physical and emotional wellbeing.
What is equine therapy?
Equine therapy is a form of animal-assisted therapy and involves patients regularly interacting with horses for some time. It's also called equine-assisted psychotherapy, where the ‘therapist’ is the horse that you care for and bond with during your time at Recovery Centre at White River.
Equine therapy is used to treat people struggling with an array of mental disorders and substance use disorders. It has proven to be beneficial for anxiety disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, and those living with an alcohol or drug addiction. When equine therapy is used in combination with other forms of treatment, it can significantly boost your self-esteem and your ability to cope in difficult situations.
How does equine therapy work?
Horses are pack animals and naturally sense and respond to a creature or human’s feelings. They can pick up if you feel scared, nervous, angry, happy or sad. The horses used for equine therapy are placid and patient, and you’ll feel safe and protected in their company. As you gain the horse's trust and accomplish small tasks, your confidence and self-esteem grows, as does your self-worth.
If you struggle to express yourself in individual or group therapy sessions, you’ll find comfort in building a trusting relationship with your horse. You are encouraged to talk to your horse while grooming or riding, sharing how you’re feeling without fear of judgment or criticism.
You are responsible for tending to your horse's basic needs, which gives you a sense of responsibility and structure. Every day your horse needs to be groomed, fed and exercised. This gives you a sense of purpose, takes your mind off your struggles and gives you a new focus. It’s particularly beneficial if you have experienced significant trauma or have been stripped of self-respect from years of substance abuse.
A few hours a day spent in the company of a placid, patient horse soothes frayed nerves and helps one cope with uncomfortable alcohol or drug withdrawal symptoms. Equine therapy is a wonderful way to keep busy during the 3-month programme while restoring your physical and emotional wellbeing through your horse’s gentle, serene feedback.
Why should you choose Recovery Centre at White River for addiction treatment?
Equine therapy is only one example of how Recovery Centre at White River extends the boundaries of traditional addiction treatment to give you a fighting chance for lasting recovery from drug and alcohol addiction or dual diagnosis.
Recovery Centre’s three-month treatment programme is comprehensive and tailor-made to your individual needs. It integrates tried-and-tested methods, advanced psychotherapy and various holistic therapies that build self-esteem and confidence, and restore physical and emotional wellness. At the end of your stay at Recovery Centre at White River, you will have the necessary tools to maintain sobriety and lead a fulfilling life free of drugs or alcohol.
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