While many rehabilitation facilities offer what are considered traditional therapies, at Villa Oasis San Diego, we offer a number of alternative therapies. These alternative therapies seek to help the mind, body, and spirit of each person that stays with us.

Villa Oasis offers Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) which is a treatment modality in which the horse is an integral partner in the therapy process to promote growth and positive change. Horses have the unique ability to read people’s emotions and therefore can act as a mirror, providing instant feedback to a client’s presence and state of mind, both emotionally and physically.
girl cups a horse's face in her hands and leans her head against it with her eyes closed during equine therapy

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    What is equine-assisted psychotherapy?

    Equine therapy was designed and developed to provide non-verbal management skills for stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma. Through non-riding interactions with horses, residents are able to improve their self-esteem and build self-control. By enhancing their awareness, they will understand the effect of their behavior on their surroundings. Each resident is individually assessed to establish a set of goals and concerns.
    Through the equine process, residents can practice mindfulness and experience the impact of their emotions and behaviors in a positive manner. Residents receive emotional and physical feedback immediately from the horses. This builds positive qualities of trust, self-worth, confidence, empowerment, and serenity in caring for others.
    Equine therapy aims to take all the wonder of these animals and utilize it to assist you in your quest to become a better version of yourself. It is important to know that intervention research has demonstrated a therapeutic effect when it comes to interacting with horses.
    These benefits have led equine therapy to become one of the best-known forms of alternative therapy there is. However, not every rehabilitation facility has the means to get you into a program that will put you up close and personal with a stable of horses.
    Equine therapy can come in a variety of forms, both together or separately, including:
    • Riding
    • Grooming
    • Socializing
    Each of these tasks has its own benefits and can create an amazing experience for you during your rehabilitation process and even afterward during post-rehab therapy. You do not need to partake in all three activities to get the most out of an equine therapy program. Things like grooming and general socializing can have a lasting impact all on their own.
    Done in a completely safe and supervised environment, residents can interact with the horses through feeding, grooming, and walking. Residents are afforded the opportunity to use all their senses to be absolutely present. Villa Oasis continues to be on the cutting edge of providing a broad range of interactive services to advance our residents’ wellness and positive change.

    What are the benefits of equine therapy?

    As with other alternative therapies, equine therapy has a number of benefits. Traditional therapies only go so far, and treatment approaches like equine therapy can fill in what they lack.

    When we think of equine therapy, the benefits are substantial. If you have a substance abuse problem, there has probably been a good amount of judgment aimed your way throughout your life. It may have been hard to trust those around you and receive the care and attention you needed.
    Interacting with horses can ease that unease. When you are with a horse, you will find that your mind can slow down, your racing thoughts will begin to calm, and your mind will be fully occupied with the animal before you. If you are riding, you will feel their strength and power as you maneuver down paths, through forests, and under the healing rays of the sun. When this therapy is done properly, there is always a positive outcome that will leave you in a healthier place mentally than you were before.
    There are various other benefits of equine therapy, including the following:
    • Improved balance: Being on a horse will allow you to find a new equilibrium, which can help you get in tune with your body.
    • Sense of well-being: You may notice that you feel safer and that you feel secure when spending time with a horse.
    • Quality of life: Being with horses will show you that you have come a long way from where you were and that the experience is beneficial to re-acclimating you to a better lifestyle.
    • Trust: When you are with an animal of this size, you will need not only to learn to trust them, but they will need to trust you. It will take work to reintroduce you to the concept of trust and how it can be applied to your human relationships.
    • Self-efficacy: When you are going through treatment, you may not feel you have control over your motivation or behavior. Equine therapy will put you back in charge and give you the tools to realize you are in charge of your life.
    girl in a white shirt sitting on a fence while playing with a white horse during an equine therapy session

    See what others say about our equine therapy program

    We don’t just expect you to take our word for how much equine-assisted psychotherapy can help in the recovery process. Many of our residents have only positive things to say about their experiences with our horses.
    "I have never felt more connected to nature and my surroundings than this."
    "For the first time, I am more aware how my emotions and behaviors can affect others."
    "It was amazing to be able to stay truly present and to focus on exactly what was in front of me."
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    Find treatment at Villa Oasis San Diego

    The equine program at Villa Oasis San Diego has been carefully designed and implemented by Dr. Tufia Stiedle, who holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specialty in equine therapy. Dr. Stiedle has been practicing equine therapy for over 15 years. Through this time, she has witnessed transformations in residents’ mindsets and behavior.
    Equine therapy at Villa Oasis San Diego has assisted residents in being more authentic and congruent in their life and becoming more effective in setting life goals. Often, this has the effect of positively changing perceptions and attitudes to carry forward into the resident’s recovery journey.
    Resident responses to the program include, “I have never felt more connected to nature and my surroundings than this,” “For the first time, I am more aware of how my emotions and behaviors can affect others,” and “It was amazing to be able to stay truly present and to focus on exactly what was in front of me.”
    Considering all the problems that can come with substance abuse, there is something to be said about spending quality, meditative time with one of these wonderful animals.

    Your rise begins.