Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
EAP is traditional psychotherapy combined with therapeutic riding and horse-related activities. It is facilitated by a credentialed mental health professional working in conjunction with a horse or pony with the intent to promote growth and healing.
Therapeutic interactions integrate the healing power of the horse, the skills of the psychotherapist and the challenges and successes of the client to formulate and work towards a variety of therapeutic goals including psychological, physical, cognitive, social and behavioral goals.
EAP creates opportunities for clients to reveal their own stories, gain insight into their own issues, process painful experiences and look at ways to change inappropriate behaviors all within a non-threatening environment.
Because horses are bigger than humans, respect happens naturally and boundaries and limits are illuminated. Horses offer immediate feedback about behavior, give non-verbal consequences, are forgiving and offer second chances. Through the feedback provided by the horse, clients also develop an understanding of how their behavior affects others.
Activities with the horses can act as a magnifying lens, and help clients to focus on the issues the client brings to the session. Issues that arise during the therapy session are linked with the larger ongoing issues within the client’s life to promote growth and change. The special bond that grows between the horse and the client becomes a catalyst for learning new skills and working towards improved functioning.
The unique relationship found between the client and the horse may lead to benefits including:
- Greater sense of self
- Feeling less frazzled
- More clarity on how to support your family and not lose yourself
- Being re-energized
- Increased ability to ask for what you need and want
- Deeper understanding of self
- Better prepared to balance responsibilities
- Vision about what they want for their life
- Finding your voice
Relationships are at the core of our existence. Building a healthy relationship sounds easy, yet many of us are not sure how to begin or what it actually takes to do so. Working with our professionals and herd of horses, you can begin to uncover what your personal relationship style is. Together we will explore what you can do to achieve the healthy, safe, and connected relationships you are longing for.
Who Can Benefit?
Individuals of all ages and levels of cognitive development can benefit from EAP. Clinical studies suggest that EAP is effective in treating:
- Low self-esteem
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Behavioral problems
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Conduct disorder
- Aggression and Substance abuse
In addition, clinical studies suggest that individuals suffering from chronic medical illnesses may benefit from EAP. With any medical illness emotional, cognitive and psychological issues may facilitate or impede compliance with and response to medical treatment. Diagnosis of medical illness is often associated with feelings of loss, depression, anxiety and at times confronting death and dying issues. Psychologists are becoming increasingly involved in providing mental health care and facilitating personal growth during such times of distress to both those who are ill and family members affected by the illness.
The unique relationship found between the client and the horse often leads to psychological benefits including:
- Healing of past trauma
- Feeling acceptance/belonging
- Development of trust
- Building social skills
- Increased assertiveness
- Decreased aggressiveness
- Enhanced motivation
- Improved problem solving skills
- Improved concentration
- Increased self-esteem and confidence
- Improved communication skills
- Improved listening skills
- Improvements in self-control
- Learning to master fears
Because the gait of the horse resembles the human gait riding may have physical benefits including improved balance, coordination, muscle strength and flexibility.
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