What is EAP?

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy

In this integrative approach to addressing psychological problems, horses are incorporated into mental health treatment programs for individuals, couples, or families. With the help of a licensed mental health professional and a horse specialist, issues such as depression, anxiety, behavior problems, traumatization, anger, bereavement, and relationship issues can be addressed.Equine-assisted psychotherapy offers a unique opportunity to work on problems through activities in the arena or pasture with a horse or group of horses, and then learn how to apply the lessons and insights to real life. Sessions are often in the form of a consultation or an adjunct to traditional psychotherapy.There is no riding involved in these programs, and you do not have to know anything at all about horses.The operative element that makes this approach “work” is the reactions and responses between the client and the horse.

Simple learning and growth experiences can also be accommodated in an equine-assisted model.These programs are generally called equine-assisted learning.A mental health professional and equine specialist will coach and guide participants to find answers for questions they have about themselves and the everyday life challenges they face. The focus might be on learning patience, building problem-solving skills, learning about your relationship style or improving self-confidence. Groups and organizations might focus on conflict-resolution, team-building or leadership.

What all of these programs have in common is that a horse is an integral part of the experience. Horses are especially helpful because they are animals of prey and, consequently, are supremely sensitive to their environment and those around them. They are willing to interact with humans and can come to trust and respect those with whom they interact. They offer immediate, accurate, unbiased feedback when you engage them. Since horses are not judgmental, many folks come to feel pretty good about themselves when around them.

And in addition to being so helpful in all these ways, horses are, quite frankly, fascinating animals. They act naturally, with no airs or pretenses. You don’t have to impress them. They are supremely social and curious, although cautious when appropriate.If you make a social error around them, they are very forgiving.They are incredibly perceptive, and they always tell the truth.If open to the experience of equine-assisted therapy, you can come to know many things about yourself when you look into the eye of a horse

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