Benefits of Equine Therapy
Trust and Empathy
Problem Solving Skills
What is Equine Therapy?
Equine-assisted psychotherapy incorporates horses into the therapeutic process. People engage in activities such as grooming, feeding, and leading a horse while being supervised by a mental health professional. Goals of this form of therapy including helping people develop skills such as emotional regulation, self-confidence, and responsibility.
With mature horses weighing anywhere in the range of 900 to 2,000 pounds or more, it might feel a bit intimidating to have such a large, majestic creature participating in your therapy sessions. However, equine-assisted therapy is growing in popularity due to its experiential approach and some burgeoning evidence of its effectiveness.
There are a variety of terms used to describe or reference equine-assisted psychotherapy, including:
- Equine-assisted mental health
- Equine-assisted counseling
- Equine-facilitated psychotherapy
- Equine-assisted therapy
The last term, equine-assisted therapy, can also often refer to other forms of therapy where horses are used, such as with occupational therapy.
Non-Judgemental and Unbiased
As much as humans, especially therapists, do our best to offer a safe space for clients to explore deep emotional hurts and painful experiences, it can be uncomfortable for clients to openly share their thoughts.
Feedback and Mirroring
Horses are keen observers and are vigilant and sensitive to movement and emotion. They often mirror a client’s behavior or emotions, conveying understanding and connection that allows the client to feel safe.
As clients might find themselves vulnerable when trying to open up about emotional challenges, past experiences, or life transitions, the horse can offer a reference point to use for processing.
- Distress tolerance
- Emotional awareness
- Impulse control
- Social awareness
- Social relationships