Horse Therapy Services

Equine Assisted Counseling (EAC) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) are terms that can be a mouthful to say! Some people like to refer to our services as “horse therapy”.

Both EAC and EAL can be hard work but are also a fresh, exciting and even fun road (journey!) to a healthier and happier life.

EAC addresses a variety of mental health issues including:
  • PTSD / Trauma
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Abuse (sexual, emotional and physical)
  • Grief and Loss
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Chemical Dependency
  • Marital Issues
  • Relationship Challenges
  • Eating Disorders
  • Youth and Adolescent Issues
 
This therapeutic approach, often incorporated as an adjunct to traditional talk therapy, is especially effective for those who feel “stuck”, unable to reach their goals.
 
EAL assists individuals, families and groups with:
  • Learning Deficiencies
  • Dysfunctional group dynamics in the home or workplace
  • Relationship Challenges
  • Communication and team building
  • Anger Management
  • Stress Management
  • Self Confidence and Esteem
  • Work Ethic
  • Independence
  • Self Respect
 

What is Equine Assisted Counseling (EAC)?

EAC is a very practical and hands-on therapy where clients interact with the horses in numerous ways such as observation, engaging in different tasks, and experimenting with nonverbal communication.

Working with horses requires that people are engaged both physically and mentally. Therefore, clients will be actively involved in investigating, experimenting, posing questions, being curious, problem solving, assuming responsibility, being creative and assertive and attaching meaning to what happens with them and the horses.

Why is it beneficial?

During EAC, clients have the opportunity to learn by doing and in the process to “experience” their own behavior. They get to see how their behaviors impact their own lives as well as the lives of others. This therapeutic approach is a powerful and effective way to bring about needed change because as clients change themselves, the horses respond differently. Horses are honest. They can mirror exactly what human body language is telling them. This makes them especially valuable messengers.

Incidentally, research has shown that nonverbal forms of communication are often much more effective at conveying a message than are words.

EAC activities are designed to best create metaphors to “real life”. This allows for metaphorical learning as everything done with the horses is related to what is happening at home, school, work, in relationships, etc.

EAC sessions are primarily facilitated by the MHP and ES with observation statements, reflective listening and questions. Our focus, as facilitators, is the process that occurs between the client and horse. The goal, then, is for clients to find their own answers, learn problem-solving skills and grow in their ability to overcome challenges and difficulties in life and relationships.

Why horses?

Anyone familiar with horses recognizes and understands the power of horses to influence people in incredibly powerful as well as positive ways. We are often asked why horses? Why not other animals?

First of all, the fact that horses are large and powerful creatures creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. They cannot be forced to do anything. Horses cannot be emotionally manipulated or intimidated. Their size and power alone are naturally intimidating to many people. So accomplishing a task involving the horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides for relevant metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something in common. Example: “Life is a journey”. Using metaphors, in discussion or activity, is an effective technique when working with even the most challenging individuals and groups.

Secondly, horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals. They have defined roles within their herds and would rather be with their peers. Being animals of prey puts them instinctively in the position to need to trust one another for protection against predators, real or perceived. They have distinct personalities, attitudes and moods. An approach that seems to work with one horse does not necessarily work with another. At times they seem stubborn and defiant. They also like to have fun.

So what is the role of the horse in an EAC or EAL session? Horses are sensitive to non-verbal communication. That’s how they communicate with one another. Just as they do with other horses, they respond to what messages the clients give them in the moment. These responses give the client and the treatment team information- information that brings awareness of current patterns and motivates change to new ones. Many clients will complain, “The horse is stubborn. The horse doesn’t like me”, etc. But the lesson to be learned is that, if they change themselves, the horses respond differently.

The horse is an integral part of EAC and EAL. It is about the horses doing the work of effecting change in peoples’ lives- it is about the relationship between the horses and the clients. Horses require people to be engaged in physical and mental work to be successful, a valuable characteristic in all aspects of life. The treatment team works as facilitators, bringing their skills, education, character and experience into the session to provide the opportunities and bringing consciousness to the lessons being learned.

Sessions

Sessions are scheduled for 50 minutes. The initial session can last a bit longer to include paperwork and intake information. Cash, checks or credit cards (except American Express) are accepted.

For clients who plan to use private insurance, the Mental Health Professional will provide you with the necessary paperwork for you to file with your insurance carrier. We encourage you to contact your insurance carrier before your first visit and to be an informed consumer.

Reservations for the initial sessions must be accompanied by advanced payment or credit card. If you fail to show up for your scheduled appointment, your credit card will be charged $50.