What is Equine Assisted Psychotherapy?

“Equine” is another word for horse. So this is therapy with the assistance of horses. Yes, their assistance! That’s why we need an Equine Specialist, a person with a deep understanding of a horse’s body language. With Gala’s 45+ years of experience working with horses, she knows what the horses are saying, and they have a lot to say!

One or more horses will be available for you to engage with at each of your sessions. Activities designed to help you work on problem solving or other skills may be offered but you, as the client, determine how the session goes. The Mental Health Professional and the Equine Specialist will be there to help in whatever way is needed.

Sharon, our Mental Health Professional (Licensed Professional Counselor) with 22 years of experience, will help you process the emotions that come up as you work with the horses. Your thoughts and feelings are important and are listened to and supported by the entire team.

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy has many “models” or versions. We use the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) model because it is highly focused on you, our client.

Click here for a written description of EAGALA from the American Counseling Association. This is an excerpt from that description (used with permission):

How is it possible for horses to represent something in the client’s private life? I answer this question by explaining the basic nature of horses. Horses are very intuitive creatures and possess an acute sense of awareness to everything that is going on in their environment. They are extremely sensitive to the actions of humans and have the uncanny ability to pick up on our non-verbal behavior. Horses are completely honest in the way they react to situations. They do not have the ability to lie or gauge their reactions to spare anyone’s feelings. I can tell you from personal experience that if I am in a bad mood when I get to the barn, my horse lets me know it immediately by becoming grumpy and difficult. Therefore, I find horses to be a fantastic instrument to use when getting a “read” on what is going on with a client. I find them particularly useful with clients who are unable or unwilling to verbally communicate their thoughts and/or feelings. ~ Lisa Krystosek 

Here is a video to give you an idea of what you can expect in an Equine Assisted Psychotherapy session, though every session is unique. (Due to confidentiality, this is not our team.)

There is no need for you to have or to learn horse skills.  There is no right or wrong way to be in your session. The horses, the therapist, and the equine specialist are there to support you. You just bring you and what you need to do.

No horse experience is needed to benefit from the work you will do with us. You will not be expected to become anything other than what you are or want to be.