EQUINE ASSISTED THERAPY
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is a wonderful compliment to traditional talk therapy. Not only can it enhance the work already taking place in the office, it can assist those who feel stuck. It can also be a very effective stand-alone therapy. EAP is also very effective in helping children and adolescents who can sometimes struggle expressing themselves verbally. The interaction with the horses provides a unique, dynamic, and concrete experience that takes place in the moment. There is an awareness achieved in working with the horses that cannot be replicated in a traditional therapeutic setting.
THIS EXPERIENTIAL MODALITY IS EFFECTIVE IN TREATING:
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Grief & Bereavement
THE BENEFITS OF EAP INCLUDE:
Improving Work Ethic
"There is something about the outside of the horse that is good for the inside of a man."
Humans have partnered with horses for thousands of years to conquer their external landscape. Horses have provided a means of exploration and transportation. They have plowed our fields and carried us into war. We have united with them in recreational sports such as fox hunting, horse racing, and show jumping. In the last several decades, we have begun to discover how horses are helping people with both physical and emotional challenges. As our relationship and connection with horses evolves, we are realizing the profound ways in which they are helping us explore and conquer our internal landscape.
Horses are prey animals. Because they have no predatory protection (fangs, sharp claws, or venom), they must rely on their keen 5 senses to protect them from harm. Horses are masters at nonverbal communication, and pay close attention to even the most subtle shifts in behavior and intention, and mirror their behavior accordingly. For example, if a herd of horses sense a mountain lion near the watering hole, they must discern whether it is safe to continue drinking or if they need to flee. Similarly, if a person is feeling angry, a horse might choose to move away from the individual, creating space to remain safe.
Even though horses are prey animals, their flight instinct is perfectly balanced with their innate curiosity. Horses are social, herd animals. They have distinct personalities and moods, just like people. They can be timid and grumpy, or playful and silly. They have a hierarchical structure similar to that of our families or workplace. Like people, horses form special relationships with one another, give and accept affection, and set boundaries with one another. This allows people to easily relate to the horses and begin to build metaphors.
Because the horses offer honest and truthful feedback in the moment, people are able to become aware of their conscious and unconscious intentions and energy. The horses’ behavior challenges clients to reflect upon their own attitudes, emotions, body language, and boundaries, and highlight any incongruences that might exist. This nonjudgmental feedback from the horses provides an opening for people to begin to experience themselves differently. Then, the treatment team helps clients understand, access, and validate the information, and begin to translate their awareness into action in their everyday lives.