Equine Assisted Therapies
Our approach takes clients out of the therapy room and into nature, with the horses, who play a crucial role in helping clients to understand their problems.
As highly intelligent herd and prey animals, horses have evolved to be responsive to each other’s needs for their own survival, and the survival of the herd. During a session we become part of the herd, and they read our physical and emotional behaviour in the same way as they do each other’s.
In a typical session, a mental health trained professional will support the client to understand themselves, through their relationship with the horses. This often includes activity orientated approaches. The therapist may also employ traditional models of counselling and psychotherapy incorporating the horses into that model.
“Horses have no need to pretend that they're anything other than what they are … At some level, in order to develop completely as a human being, you need to be aware that there's no need to be anything other than what you are. When you develop a certain level of comfort and confidence about who you are internally, then you're free to be part of herds. You're free to have relationships with people.”
Marcel Montañez . Research Professor, New Mexico State University
During a session the horses act as live bio-feedback mirrors for clients. In this way they assist clients to understand their habitual life, relationship and emotional challenges. With the aid of a therapist, the insights that the horses provide, translate directly into the clients life situations and relationships. The focus then moves on to recognising and overcoming identified challenges.
Each session evolves at the client’s own pace. A session may include: mindful awareness, emotional self-regulation, sensory body awareness and emotional intelligence, all of which help regulate the nervous system and boost self-confidence.
"Research has shown that in certain conditions horses have the ability to synchronise their own heartbeat with that of human beings. This can have a deeply calming effect on our nervous system."
The clients bond with the horse is very deep and powerful, non-judgemental and transformative. In the breakdown of primary relationships, self-worth, self-respect and trust in life has often been lost for the client. The therapeutic bond and journey with their horse companion starts to rebuild a confidence in themselves, a new found joy in life and the greater good again.
Our approach has a similar timescale to counselling and psychotherapy. It may be short or long term. We recommend a minimum of eight sessions and offer an initial introductory visit to talk through your needs with a therapist. Sessions last between 1 hour and 90 minutes. No experience with horses is necessary and most of the time is spend on the ground. Riding is not necessary, but therapeutic riding may be included in the sessions by mutual agreement of client and therapist.