Spending time with animals is known to help with anxiety and depression while also lowering stress levels. Those who have owned pets can attest that an animal’s companionship can make a bad day seem instantly brighter. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) simply aims to harness the power of animals in a more controlled fashion.

Goals of Animal-Assisted Therapy

AAT is a form of therapy that uses animals to assist in improving a patient’s emotional, social, or cognitive functioning. A variety of benefits are achieved through this alternative form of therapy, such as learning to:

  • Build trust
  • Recognize unconditional love
  • Develop empathy
  • Promote nonverbal communication
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Develop leadership skills
  • Promote impulse control
  • Reduce stress & minimize anxiety
  • Decrease feelings of hopelessness
  • Develop creative problem-solving skills

As you might expect, these critical life lessons can easily be connected to maintaining sobriety. Improving relational skills, learning how to manage emotions, and understanding how to work toward defined goals gives men and women struggling with drug or alcohol addiction the foundation they need to promote a lasting recovery.

AAT is suitable for use with clients of all ages and abilities and is particularly helpful for teens, young adults and individuals struggling to find a viable form of treatment for substance misuse.

Using Animal Therapy in Addiction Recovery

One cutting-edge form of animal therapy used in addiction recovery is equine therapy. Horses are the ideal choice for those struggling with substance abuse issues because of the animal’s relational nature. While they cannot speak to you, horses respond to human actions in a way that helps reinforce the basics of creating a mutual and reciprocal relationship.

The best part is that participating clients don’t need to have previous experience with horses or horseback riding to benefit from equine therapy. Activities are gender-specific, personalized to meets the needs of each individual, and supervised by a therapist trained in the therapeutic use of animals.

Request Delray Beach Substance Misuse Treatment

At Guardian IOP, we integrate equine therapy into our drug and alcohol misuse curriculum as part of an intensive outpatient program in Delray Beach, Florida. Equine treatment won’t cure addiction on its own but can be a very practical addition to your regimen of individual, group and family counseling. Contact our credentialed team at (888) 693-1894 to learn more or to begin the insurance verification process. When it’s time to deal with insurance and financial planning, our team advocates for you—removing the financial stress of recovery so you can get the fresh start you need.


Reviewed for accuracy by:

Anna earned her Masters of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL in 2017 and completed her internship in co-occurring disorders. Anna has a Bachelors of Art in Religious Studies from Naropa University and is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. Anna has received specialized training in somatic counseling with an emphasis on body-centered psychotherapy.