A recent article in Reuters reported that in South Korea, internet addiction is a huge problem. In fact, 1 in 10 children are now internet addicts. And even after a government ban designed to address the problem, internet addiction continued to escalate as children simply learned to use their parents passwords to circumvent the law. So when a young South Korean teenager’s parents were given the suggestion to try equine therapy to combat her addiction to the internet, being at their wit’s end, they eagerly gave it a try.
Equine therapy has been used with drug addicts for many years, and with much popularity. Here are a few of the reasons many drug rehabilitation centers look to horses to help their addicted patients.
For one thing, horses come with much less judgment than a person, and since being judged is something that addicts are uniquely sensitive to, equine therapy can look attractive to an addict.
Horses are also much more attuned and sensitive to physiology than people typically are (being dependent on it for their survival), and therefore can respond to addicts in ways that will help them decipher hidden emotions (things they feel yet are not entirely conscious of), and sort out just how they feel.
Interactive relationship Building
Unlike working with a therapist in a traditional setting, equine therapy involves the addict physically interacting with a horse. The patient may have to work to build trust, establish boundaries, or convey messages clearly. In any case, often what is acted out, yet unspoken becomes very telling for the addict in terms of just how he/she does relationships. These behaviors can then be addressed through the work with the horse, and the relationship can shift visibly in ways that the addict can identify.
While internet addiction is relatively new, addiction, and the treatment for it is not. What is fascinating, however, is to witness just how an animal can help a teenager unplug from a cell phone, computer, or ipad — especially when all else has failed.
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Last reviewed: 24 Jan 2013