Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) incorporates horses experientially for emotional growth and learning. It is a collaborative effort between a therapist and a horse professional working with the clients and horses to address specific goals. Because of its intensity and effectiveness, it is considered a short-term, or "brief" approach.
EAP is experiential in nature. This means that participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then looking at their own behaviors and patterns. This approach has been compared to the ropes courses used by therapists, treatment facilities, and human development courses around the world. But EAP has the added advantage of utilizing horses, dynamic and powerful living beings.
The focus of EAP is not riding or horsemanship. Rather it involves setting up ground activities using the horses which require the client or group to apply certain skills. Non-verbal communication, creative thinking and problem-solving, leadership, taking responsibility, teamwork and relationships, confidence, and attitude are several examples of the tools utilized and developed by EAP.
EAP is a powerful and effective therapeutic approach that has an incredible impact on individuals, youth, families, and groups. EAP addresses a variety of mental health and human development needs including behavioral issues, attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, abuse issues, depression, anxiety, relationship problems and communication needs.
For more information on EAP in general, visit the Equine Assisted Growth & Learning Association (EAGALA) website at www.eagala.org.
Equine assisted Learning programs incorporate many of the components of EAP without the goal of Psychiatric treatment but rather with a goal of self-discovery, personal growth, leadership or team dynamics or family awareness and bonding. The facilitators are trained professionals working together without always including a mental health professional. EAL is ideal for work teams, school groups, families, or individuals wanting to improve upon or learn about life skills, group dynamics and practical applications to life’s daily events.