National Friendship Day

It’s important to connect to others and make friends. National Friendship Day, typically celebrated the first Sunday in August, acknowledges this importance.

Some people find this connection with animals. In fact, to highlight the human-animal bond, some therapies include animals.

Did you know that some drug and alcohol treatment centers and other health care facilities offer equine therapy? Equine therapy is therapy with horses.

Animals appear to have empathy for people who are going through rough times. Children who survived the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary told therapy dogs what they experienced during the attacks. People with mental illnesses, trauma, injuries, and other medical conditions said that their animals sensed their pain and comforted them.

Another benefit of animals is their nonjudgmental nature. Recovering drug and alcohol users may feel that other people have shamed them (or they may feel ashamed of themselves), but animals don’t shame or stigmatize people.

Spending time with animals does require work. Domesticated animals rely on humans for food, shelter, bathing, grooming, exercise, and health care. Horses are large animals that require a lot of work, but this work could provide distractions from a person’s problems.

Exercise is also a good distraction for someone who is battling cravings and dealing with psychological problems. Riding horses and cleaning their stables can be unique ways to find physical fitness and mental wellness.

Finally, equine therapy can boost confidence. Years of addiction might batter people’s self-esteem, but equine therapy can help people regain it.

If people have never ridden or groomed horses before, they may be proud that they’ve mastered new skills. They may feel good about themselves because they’re caring for horses and taking responsibility for the animals and their own lives.

Equine therapy illustrates that friends come in all forms. So do healing and help.

Sources

sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Treatment Centers

online.uwa.edu – Do Animals Have Feelings? Examining Empathy in Animals

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov – Stigma and Self-Stigma in Addiction

sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – 5 Ways to Utilize Holistic Therapy

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