Equine Therapy

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What is Equine Therapy?

Equine therapy has been around for years and serves a variety of populations. From working with children who have behavior issues, autism, and other developmental disabilities, to working with vets suffering from PTSD, equine therapy has been helping people to make genuine progress in their lives.

For people who have trauma, anxiety, and stress, spending time with horses is ideal. Studies have shown that being in the presence of a horse actually changes brainwave patterns, lowers blood pressure, and promotes relaxation.

Although just about any animal can have a therapeutic effect, the two animals that are most often utilized in this setting are dogs and horses. There are two ways this is generally done. One is through animal companionship. This may be as simple as spending time with the animal, interacting with it, and caring for it. This may be done in conjunction with a counseling session, as the presence of the animal can help a client to open up or feel more comfortable. In other situations, there may be specific exercises carried out with the help of a clinician.

What Are the Components of a Equine Therapy?

In equine therapy, the client, supervised by a clinician and equine therapy specialist, will carry out specific tasks with the horse designed to build trust, awareness, confidence, and leadership skills. Horses are highly intelligent animals and have a strong sense of awareness when it comes to a person’s mood. If a person is frightened, angry, sad, or anxious, the horse senses it and will respond. This creates instant feedback which results in the person altering their behavior to produce a different response in the horse. This makes horses excellent for managing anger, working through fears, and developing impulse control.

Using Animal Therapy in Treatment

The connection between humans and animals has been well-documented throughout history. People have relied on animals for companionship, assistance, and protection for thousands of years. Animals are highly sensitive and perceptive and seem to have an almost sixth sense when it comes to humans and their emotions.

In addition, animals have a naturally accepting nature that many people find soothing. They don’t care who you are, what you look like, what you have or don’t have, etc. This unconditional acceptance has a way of putting people at ease. People who have a difficult time opening up and trusting others often find themselves much more relaxed when animals are present.

Why Equine Therapy For Addiction Treatment?

People who come into treatment frequently struggle with interpersonal relationships, social skills, self-esteem, and impulse control. The process of talk therapy is often slow going, especially for those who have trust issues or who have difficulty verbalizing their feelings. Activities such as equine therapy seem to alleviate many of these issues. As the client becomes more comfortable with the horse, confidence grows. The relationship of mutual trust that is developed between horse and rider paves the way toward increased trust and rapport with counselors and peers.

First Steps equine therapy program takes place once a week, and the horses are brought to the property by an experienced trainer. The equine therapy program is popular with clients, who look forward to the weekly sessions with the horses in the beautiful and serene outdoor setting.

Equine therapy is just one of many therapies that clients of First Steps get to experience. In addition to individual counseling and group therapy, activities such as equine therapy mean that our clients get a comprehensive treatment experience that truly helps them grow and heal while experiencing the unique challenges and rewards of early recovery.

Getting Help With First Steps Recovery

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, our program can help. We offer comprehensive treatment that is tailored to individual needs. Our facility is set in beautiful, natural surroundings just outside Yosemite National Park. Call 1-844-BIG-STEP today to find out more.

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Variety of Holistic Experiential Therapies We Offer

We offer a variety of holistic therapies to our clients, both experiential and evidence-based. These therapies help our clients to get in touch with their minds and bodies while undergoing treatment, promoting a sense of peace and wellness.
Art Therapy

Art therapy programs allow clients to use their creativity and imagination to make create art that expresses what they truly feel in a healthy and productive way.

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Equine Therapy

Equine therapy works with clients that have behavior issues, autism, and developmental disabilities and works with vets suffering from PTSD.

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Wilderness Therapy

Wilderness therapy is a therapeutic intervention that utilizes nature as a backdrop, and adventure and exploration as a tool for growth and self-discovery.

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Music Therapy

Music therapy in a drug treatment setting utilizes music and various forms of musical expression in order for clients to self‐reflect as well as to assess where they are at right now and where they want to be in their recovery.

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Yoga Therapy

Yoga utilizes physical postures and controlled breathing that help lengthen and strengthen the spine, increase flexibility, and help calm the mind.

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Recreation Therapy

Recreation recovery is a new way of living life. Living clean and sober opens people up to whole new ways of having fun and enjoying life.

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Physical Therapy

Physical wellness plays a huge part in the success of recovery. Maintaining a healthy weight, and getting the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, and proteins are all essential to repairing the damage done by drugs and alcohol.

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Mindfulness Therapy

Mindfulness therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on learning to notice thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without automatic responses.

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Offering Innovation & Excellence in Addiction Treatment, Fresno County

Discover how we approach addiction treatment and detox at First Steps Recovery.

Medical Detox

Our detoxification program features 24-hour monitoring and professional guidance from licensed detox technicians.
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Residential Treatment Care (RTC)

A highly individualized treatment experience designed for lasting sobriety using evidence-based and holistic treatment options.
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Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Our PHP allows you to continue your addiction treatment program without residing at the inpatient facility.
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Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Our IOP offers individuals the ability to receive the high-quality, personalized level care of our rehab, but the flexibility to continue their daily lives.
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Individuals in the alumni program are invited to stay connected for meetings, events, and resources that are intended specifically for First Steps graduates.
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First Choice for Drug & Alcohol Detox in Fresno County

Learn why people choose to start their recovery at First Steps Recovery in Clovis, Fresno County.


My experience with First Steps and their entire team has not only helped me to gain sobriety but maintain it now for knots 18 months. The 24 or so days I spent there was the best thing that happened. My kids have their mom, the parents have their daughter but most importantly I have myself back!!

Dayatra L.

Amazing Experience

Amazing people. Super supportive and always there when you need them. My counselor, Amanda, makes it fun but also takes you to uncomfortable places in the best way. I recommend First Steps to anyone struggling with addiction.

Melissa B.

Above and Beyond

I attended First Steps outpatient program and was very happy with the help I received. I felt the staff genuinely cared about the health and well being of the people there. They went above and beyond to help me meet my goals and keep them.

Bruce G.

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First Steps Recovery is an in-network provider with most insurances! Regardless of where you live, our skilled and compassionate drug treatment counselors in Fresno can help you and your family get the help you need to get on the road to recovery.