Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is the discipline of using horses as a means to provide metaphoric experiences in order to promote emotional growth. Equine therapists will usually teach many lessons on ways in which horses learn, react, and follow instructions to the lives of client(s) themselves.The goal of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is to help the client(s) develop needed skills and attributes, such as accountability, responsibility, self-confidence, problem-solving skills, and self-control. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy also provides an innovative milieu in which the therapist and the client(s) can identify and address a range of emotional and behavioral challenges.
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is an experiential form of psychotherapy. “Experiential” means that you will be involved in hands-on experiences with the horses designed to reflect things going on in your life. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy provide the client(s) the opportunity to experience, explore, problem-solve, discover, be creative, gain insight and experience practical applications of what is being learned in the moment. The process is about “doing” along with the “talking.”
There are several reasons a horse is used in this work. The primary reason is because of their nature as a social animal. As a result of this nature, they have an extraordinary ability to read our nonverbal communication – picking up on messages we are sending which we are not always conscious we are doing. With this, they start responding to us in familiar ways reminding us of other people and things in our life. It is through this they become metaphors (symbols) providing us the opportunity to work on ourselves in relation to those aspects of our lives.
Horses do not know our past, education, gender, race or other labels we may apply to ourselves and others. They are in the moment and can be a part of this relationship without the biases we humans put on each other. This provides even more value in the insight they can provide us about ourselves.