What is Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy?

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is an approach to learning self-awareness, skills, and increasing prowess in essential areas related to improving human relationships.  Horses are ideally suited as a vehicle for this type of learning because EAP is geared to the person experiencing (typically people learn best by hands-on application), not just understanding, the dynamics involved in relating to others, themselves, and ultimately, God.

Participants are asked to perform specific tasks with the horses to “the best of their ability”.   The Equine Specialist and mental health professional observe the interactions between horse and human, without offering any critique.  Because horses respond to exactly who we are in the moment, they also react to changes that we make.  Therefore, clients learn that by changing their behavior (and attitudes) the horses will respond differently.  Clients develop more conscious awareness of their body language and patterns of actions and emotions that limit their emotional and relational development.  Within this relationally safe environment, as clients change their way of relating with the horse, and deal with fears and other emotions and actions that may be keeping them ‘stuck’, lessons learned are naturally transferred to the human relationships outside the EAP environment.

In EAP all work is done on the ground so the participant can focus on his/her emotional and physical reactions to the horse(s) and the assigned task without the added burden of having to be concerned with horsemanship.  The horse, too, is free to be itself and respond more naturally with its unique insights into who we are that moment when we are not in a rider posture.   Horse and human work face-to- face on the same footing. In short, “Horses offer clients honest feedback and usable information that help them understand how their process and actions affect others and impacts their lives.”(quote taken from EAGALA.org)