Equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) focuses on mental health and behavioral changes. EAP provides immediate cause and effect situations, encourages change from dysfunctional patterns to successful ones, challenges clients in a non-threatening manner, and rapidly breaks down defense barriers.
In contrast, EAP is similar to Equine Assisted Learning (EAL), but the focus with EAL is on learning and educational goals such as improved sales for a company, leadership skills, advancing educational knowledge for a school group, team building or resiliency training. Both approaches require a licensed mental health professional and a trained equine specialist in order to work as a team in order to provide brief and intense interventions. All equine related sessions is conducted by a two-person team. The mental health professional remains more focused on the individual’s behaviors while the equine specialist remains more in tuned to the horse during the session.
So the question stands: Why Horses?
Horses experience a full range of emotions some, which include relief, grief, anger, and contentment. Horses are social, have roles within their herd (group), and are intuitive to their surroundings and interactions with humans. Horses play, fight, communicate, and love. They will respond and react to their surroundings, which make them an excellent source for people to visibly see their own needs through the reactions and behaviors of the horses during a session. Incorporating the horses alone in a counseling session require individuals to stretch outside of their comfort zone and adapt their behaviors to meet their own personal goals while choosing to interact or observe the horses in session.