Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Horses as therapists. Movement. Metaphor. Sometimes talking about problems isn’t the way to solve them. Sometimes there are no words. As your EAGALA-certified mental health specialist, I am part of a team that will help you connect with your inner wisdom via horses.

 

I've partnered with equine specialist Heidi Ott to offer Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) using the EAGALA model, in a venture we call "Horsibilities".  It's horses helping humans create new possibilities. 

EAP is an experiential process where horses, a mental health professional, and an equine specialist work as a team to help clients reach their goals. You'll participate in activities that are designed to create self-awareness, build confidence, increase interpersonal effectiveness, learn trust, and set limits, among other possibilities. The activities are designed around your specific goals.  Horses provide immediate feedback by mirroring your emotions and behavior.  The human members of the treatment team help you process your resulting thoughts and feelings.

The EAGALA Model

Many people think of therapeutic riding when they hear the phrase "Equine Assisted Psychotherapy".  However, in the EAGALA model, all work is done on the ground. You don't have to know anything about horses or riding in order to participate.  The horses - and their interaction with humans, other horses, and things in the environment - become metaphors for relationships and situations in the client's life. There are always at least one horse, one mental health professional, one equine specialist, and one client working together to help the client discover new possibilities.

Our approach is highly non-directive. That means we don't tell you what to do, think, or feel. In fact, there isn't much talking at all.  We'll ask you what you'd like to get out of the session, design an activity for you to connect with the horses, and then get out of the way.  You'll be interacting with the horses, not the humans, most of the time. You may notice similarities between what happens with the horses and what is going on in your life.  You may experience intense emotions.  You may have a sudden "knowing", where concepts that have eluded you suddenly become clear.  We don't really know what will happen.  And that's the beauty of it - we work with whatever comes up in the moment. And we trust the process. 

The EAGALA model is also solution-focused.  We believe that clients have the wisdom inside themselves to find solutions to their own problems. The therapeutic team simply provides a flashlight to help them look within.

How Horses Can Help

As prey animals, horses have evolved over the millennia to sense and respond to what is happening around them. They have an uncanny ability to read and reflect what is happening inside humans (who were historically predators), even when we are not aware of it ourselves. Horses tap into the unconscious mind. They are wary of any incongruence, which is where your feelings are not aligned with your actions.  For example, saying you're fine when really you're dying inside is incongruent. You can't fool horses - they will call you out.  They always seem to know what needs to happen in the session.  Although they cannot talk, they communicate with their body language in ways that are often profound. 

Horses are selective about their interactions with humans.  People who want a horse to follow their lead must first establish trust. They must achieve congruence in their feelings and actions. This can be difficult for someone who is only familiar with dysfunction, hurt, and mistrust. The skills learned in connecting with horses can be transferred to other relationships in the client's life. 

To Get Started...

Contact me via this web site, or give me a call at (717)730-2144 to schedule a free initial consultation.  We'll discuss your needs, how EAP might benefit you, and answer whatever questions you have.  

I look forward to talking with you. The "horsibilities" are endless!

EAGALA Certified