What is Equine Assisted Psychotherapy?
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy sessions include a Team of Client, Horses, credentialed Mental Health Professional (Therapist), and a certified Equine Specialist. The team works collaboratively to help the client make desired life changes. This client-centered approach believes that each client is uniquely capable of determining the life changes they need to make in order to improve their lives.
Horses have a uniquely intuitive power, offering honest feedback to clients in-the-moment. They rely on reading others for survival. They read and respond to our nonverbal messages, behaving in ways that resemble other relationship dynamics in our lives. This information helps clients increase their awareness and understand how their emotions and behaviors affect others. Metaphorically, horses become our parent, spouse, child, boss, co-worker, addiction, fear, hopes, etc. Clients are able to work through these relationships and/or challenges and practice the changes they wish to make in a safe, supportive setting.
Horses are social animals. They have distinct personalities, moods, attitudes, and roles within their herds. They can be playful, loving, stubborn, defiant, etc. An approach that works with one horse may not work with another horse. This provides us with an excellent opportunity to work on improving relationships. When we work on our relationships with horses, we are learning how to improve our relationships with others.
Can this help me?
People tend to learn and change when they understand something cognitively (in their heads) and implement through experience (in their bodies). Horses have the special ability to help people work through emotional barriers. They serve as metaphors and powerful stand-ins for the people, issues, and challenges in our lives. This has been effective for clients of all abilities, diagnoses, and presenting issue. Coping skills and resiliency improve with increased insight and new behaviors. Equine-Assisted work can be with a single person, couple, family, or group (co-workers, teammates, etc.).
Do we ride the horses?
In this model, clients work directly with horses on ground level. It is safe and effective, because it involves no riding or horsemanship. Being face-to-face with horses, clients can mindfully observe the horses' reactions. The horses don't have to act in conditioned ways. They have the space to be themselves, exploring and experiencing along with the clients.
I don't know anything about horses.
Will this make it more difficult?
You don't need to have any previous experience with horses to benefit from Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy. Clients' stories symbolically unfold through the horses, regardless of past experience with horses. They gain insight and begin feeling themselves shift through this Experiential Model.
Will this work if I have a fear of horses?
Whether you have a fear of horses, another specific fear or phobia, or more generalized fear, horses provide you with an opportunity to develop a different relationship with fear. Horses are large and powerful, creating an environment where clients can overcome fear, create confidence and increase insight for other challenging situations in life.
Where is equine work offered?
Equine-Assisted work is offered in Taylors Falls at Stable Place. This ranch is a 20-minute drive from Theraplace's main office in North Branch.
I want to try this. What do I do next?
Call (651) 775-9804 or e-mail to schedule an intake appointment with one of our clinicians.