Teen Depression Treatment: Equine Therapy Helps Teens Reconnect

Posted on 21. Dec, 2013 by in Self Harm, Sober Living

You might have been feeling this way for awhile and can’t quite remember when it started, if it started or simply always has been.  If you named how you feel, you would probably say depressed, sad, down, disinterested, tired, irritated, and apathetic.  Perhaps you are having headaches and stomach aches or can’t sleep, and have been missing school because you just don’t feel well.  Maybe you are spending more time alone or with a couple of trusted friends or your dog.  You can’t stand the idea of being with or near your parents, brothers or sisters, or other family members.  Why can’t  they just leave you alone!  If only they would, then maybe you wouldn’t be so angry, irritable, agitated or numb.  They don’t get it, and, obviously, don’t care.

Teen depression impairs the way you feel, think, and experience yourself and others.  It effects relationships and is something experienced, not only be the teen, but by those who love and care about him/her.  Undiagnosed and untreated depression in adolescents can result in inappropriate and misinformed characterizations of the young person who is struggling with the disorder.  If you think that you or someone you know may be experiencing depression it is important to seek help.  But depression can make it challenging to help the depressed teen, to reach a young person whose symptoms make her/him more and more unreachable and disconnected.

The impact of depression on the teen and his/her family is often damaging and far-reaching:  siblings who were once best friends will come to animosity and resentment, parents who had unwavering patience will become distrusting and short-tempered.  It’s important for a parent to help and try to stay supportive of their teen, even if he/she hates the attention. Depression’s destructive impact on relationships often makes it challenging for loved ones to give the necessary support and understanding and virtually impossible for the adolescent to receive it.  For these reasons, Equine Therapy can be effective in penetrating the social withdrawal and emotional recoil symptomatic of adolescent depression, thereby improving the interpersonal dynamics of the family group.

As herd animals, horses are extraordinarily sensitive to social order and relational cues.  Equine therapy employs the horses’ innate relational acuity to assist teens in understanding how depression is effecting their self-perception and their interactions with others.  Unlike humans, horses will move toward a person who is emotionally suffering, inviting them into the comfort of “the herd.”  Many adolescents are profoundly open to interactions with animals, allowing a degree of personal vulnerability, and emotional authenticity that they are hesitant, and with depression, unable to tap into with other people.  In the hands of a skilled Equine Therapist and horses, a teen suffering from depression can find an accelerated rate of recovery and gain insight into how the disorder is and has impacted their relationship to friends and family.  By experiencing relational dynamics with the horses, teens learn to reconnect with family members in constructive and supportive ways.

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