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Equine-assisted therapy can benefit those with special needs

Riding and working with horses on the ground can greatly benefit people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as mental illnesses. So-called “equine-assisted therapy,” or EAT for short, has been found to benefit a range of mental and emotional conditions as well as some physical disabilities, reports Disability Scoop.

Disability Scoop reports that interaction between horses and people for therapeutic reasons has ancient origins. Benefits may include:

  • Increased confidence and self-worth
  • Improved social skills
  • Exercise through experiencing horses’ gaits for those with limited mobility
  • Better communication and coordination
  • Reduced stress and soothed emotions

According to Psychology Today, while some patient-horse interactions are more informal or considered recreational or nonmedical, “equine-facilitated psychotherapy” may be overseen by a licensed medical provider or physical therapist in treating people with addiction, trauma-related problems, depression and other impairments.

The Psychology Today article explains that horses reflect the emotional conditions of those around them, so this interaction can help people identify their own negative feelings. Horse behavior can also bring up past trauma, creating opportunities for support and therapy.

Caring for horses can help create a work ethic and a sense of relationship building.

Long-term planning issues

Medical insurance is unlikely to cover equine therapy, although coverage may be more likely when it is part of psychotherapeutic treatment conducted by a medical professional. Family members of people who may benefit from EAT and other similar activities should speak with an attorney to understand ways to plan for financing such therapy.

For example, a disabled person may be on government benefit programs that limit the amount of money and assets they can have. In such a situation, an attorney can describe options for creating a financial source to finance EAT such as a special-needs trust or ABLE account.

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