Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
Where appropriate, I can offer psychotherapy sessions to individuals and couples working with horses on the grounds. For more information on Equine Assisted Learning, equine assisted growth and learning or Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, visit the following website [http://www.eagala.org]
Farnham near Guilford, Surrey ( GU10 3EL) .
From £ 60: Sessions can be from an hour and a half to two hours.
What is Equine Assisted Therapy – EAT:
A therapy session with horses starts by reopening your eyes to the world around you, to look at the bigger picture, to notice the trees, grass, birds, and the beautiful nature around you.
Therapists can use clients’ reactions to horses’ behaviour to understand how clients interact with people and help them gain self-awareness. The therapist might use a client’s interpretation of a horse’s movements, behaviour or reactions as a metaphor to identify and change negative patterns of thinking that lead to depression or relationship problems, addiction etc. The horses offer a pure, nonjudgmental relationship. It mite be that you have difficulties to trust other and feel save.
If you have experienced trauma, you struggle with depression, isolation, addiction, or you have problems with food. I might be you have difficulties to trust others and feel safe, or difficulty in communicating. You may be resistant to opening up to a therapist and expressing your feelings. EAT can serve as a first step in helping you to break through those barriers and become more comfortable.
Why use horses?
Those who are familiar with horses recognize and understand the ability of horses to influence people in incredibly powerful ways. Developing a relationship, training, horsemanship instruction, and caring for the horses naturally affects the people involved in a positive manner.
We are often asked, “Why horses? Why not other animals?”:
Horses are large and powerful, which creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. The size and power of the horse are naturally intimidating to many people. Accomplishing a task involving the horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.
Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals. They have defined roles within their herds. They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes, and moods. An approach that seems to work with one horse, does not necessarily work with another. At times, they seem stubborn and defiant. They like to have fun. In other words, horses provide vast opportunities for metaphorical learning. Using metaphors, in discussion or activity, is an effective technique when working with even the most challenging individuals.
Horses require work, whether in caring for them or working with them. In an era when immediate gratification and the “easy way” are the norm, horses require people to be engaged in physical and mental work to be successful, a valuable characteristic in all aspects of life.
Most importantly, horses have the ability to mirror exactly what human body language is telling them. Many people will complain, “The horse is stubborn. The horse doesn’t like me,” etc. But the lesson to be learned is that if they change themselves, the horses respond differently. Horses are honest, which makes them especially powerful messengers.
How does EAT differ from Recreational Horsemanship and Riding?
Although spending time with horses, whether it is riding, leisure, or sport, is certainly beneficial mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, EAT offers the following benefits to individuals, that specifically address mental, emotional, and behavioural issues:
- The focus is on human skills, not horse skills.
- Everything done with the horse is related to what is happening at home, at work, and in relationships (metaphorical learning).
- EAT activities are designed to best create metaphors to “real life.”
- Your True-self surface more quickly because it is hard to focus on an EAT task and on performing for people at the same time.
- The focus is on identifying and modifying patterns of behaviour, thoughts, and beliefs.
- The focus is also on non-verbal communication.
- Whereas riding/horsemanship lessons tend to be more directive in educating the “how to’s” of horses, EAT sessions are non-directive.
This non-directive approach benefits clients by:
- Increasing self-discovery, self-confidence, and leadership.
- Creating an environment where you can discover what is right and wrong for you. This provides the opportunity to choose a more successful, happier life vs. the therapist or riding instructor directing what is “wrong or right” or telling the client “this is how you do it.” (EAT is a solution-oriented approach and acknowledges the power of choice).
- You can experience the reality of choices, attitudes, and consequences.
- Allowing for opportunities to problem-solve and be creative.
What happens during a session?:
We will spend time out with the horses by watching the horses reactions to you, and yours to the horse. We then talk about what the horse is telling me. Without you realising the horse will be communicating to me how you make them feel, which will be a mirror of your true feelings.
Results after a few sessions with horses and a therapist:
By working on your breathing and focusing on your body, you will become aware of past traumas, experiences, emotions that have happened during your life which have affected you hugely, but which you have not dealt with. The feelings have been stored and the outer image carried on, until such time that your storage area becomes full and depressed, stress, illness etc hit. The horse will encourage you to deal with these emotions, they will release the energy blocks by yawning (the biggest yawns you have ever seen!),and as you talk through the emotion you will feel your energy change and this is the start of your recovery.
As Churchill said: “There’s something, about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.