Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is a popular and effective form of animal-assisted therapy. Like people, horses are curious and social creatures. Horses communicate through body language, which makes them excellent therapy partners.
Horses often mirror the emotional state of the person who is interacting with them, providing instant feedback on feelings or thoughts that a person may not recognize in themselves but can recognize in the horse. A horse that is approached by someone who is agitated will likely behave in an agitated way as well, for example. This feedback can be used by the therapist as a foundation for individuals to learn how their behavior impacts others and how to improve their human relationships.
During equine-assisted therapy, participants groom, care for, walk and interact with horses. The activity helps a trusting relationship to grow between the individual and the horse. For many people with addictions and other mental health disorders, relationships are not easy to build.
As clients work with horses, a therapist will use guided imagery and metaphors to help individuals understand the life lessons they can learn from the horses and how they can apply those lessons to their own lives and relationships. Communication skills, leadership skills, boundaries, trust, awareness of behavior, awareness of feelings and increased focus are all common goals of equine therapy.
Equine therapy can be beneficial for people with a wide range of conditions including:
The mere presence of a horse can have a calming and soothing effect, but a therapist who specializes in EAP can ensure that you get the most out of your time with the horse. For more information about equine therapy programs, give us a call.
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