• Equine assisted therapy: supporting treatment for substance use disorders in Alaska

      Gelvin-Smith, Claire; Renes, Susan; Gifford, Valerie; Jonaitis, Aldona (2017-04)
      The State of Alaska demonstrates exceedingly high rates of interpersonal violence, child neglect, depression, and drug related arrests when compared with national rates. Substance use disorder is often linked with instances of interpersonal violence, child neglect, depression and judicial consequences. An equine assisted therapy program could provide support for the treatment of substance use disorders in Alaska. This project asks one basic question, "What benefits could an equine assisted therapy program provide for individuals in a level II, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) in interior Alaska?" Currently, no residential or level II treatment programs for substance use disorder in Alaska offer equine assisted therapy. Examples of successful equine assisted therapy programs in the contiguous United States are presented as models for an equine assisted therapy program in Alaska. Resiliency theory is introduced as a theoretical framework that balances goals and objectives of both level II substance use treatment and equine assisted therapy. Participants might experience benefits from an equine assisted therapy group related to immediate feedback, opportunities for learning, opportunities for trust-building, healthy relationships, learning new ways of dealing with trauma, relationships, confronting fears, and effectively working through new challenges.