Equine Assisted Counseling
Equine Assisted Counseling (EAC) is a form of therapy for many common mental health concerns including trauma, grief, loss and relationship issues. It is an emerging field with a growing body of research to support its effectiveness.
EAC sessions are especially impactful with children, youth and families. Our experiential or “hands on” approach offers an alternative to traditional office-based talk therapy. Other forms of experiential therapy (e.g. wilderness therapy, play therapy, expressive therapy) have similar therapeutic goals but use different forms of expression to attain those goals. Our therapy is completed on the ground. It is not based on riding, and no horse experience is required.
Why is EAC Unique?
EAC is unique because horses are part of our therapy team! Our sessions are interactive and clients participate in horse activities to achieve non-horse related goals. Sessions are guided by a licensed Therapist, an Equine Specialist and 1-3 horses depending on the unique needs of the client.
Using horses in counseling helps to provide a richer, more engaging therapy experience. Horses are naturally intriguing and often clients are naturally led to ask questions out of curiosity and this facilitates client interaction with the therapy team. As a result, therapeutic rapport can be developed much more quickly than with traditional office-based counseling.
Bringing young people together with horses in a non-traditional way facilitates natural life skill development and has shown to improve communication, problem solving skills, confidence, leadership and teamwork abilities.
Why is EAC So Effective?
We don’t just talk about coping strategies, we actually apply the strategies in the moment! For example, a client may be instructed to move a horse over an obstacle in the arena. During this process clients are encouraged to shift the focus away from completing the “task” with the horse to examining what is happening in the relationship during this process or what is happening inside of themselves. While we are directly building relationships with horses we are also addressing any thoughts, feelings, or responses that emerge.