Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy
Horses Make Miracles programs are foundations for promoting growth and positive change in youth, adults and families that offer a unique, challenging, safe and enjoyable form of experiential therapy under the supervision of licensed and certified professionals.
Working effectively and safely with a 1000 lb. animal requires patience, trust, compassion, awareness and self-confidence. Developing, enhancing and transferring these traits to life challenges are the goals of Horses Make Miracles.
Horses are social creatures with a hierarchy that parallels human society. Activities are designed to elicit leadership and follower behaviors of the participants. Horses have distinct personalities and frequently participants select horses to engage with that mirror themselves aiding participants to observe and gain understanding of their actions and the reactions of others. Horses don’t lie and through their body language they can communicate what is going on with the participant and reflect this back, thus breaking down defenses.
Horses are effectively used in these activities as metaphors for life, attitudes and behaviors. For example, participants may be asked to make a horse walk over a ground pole set in the arena, which sounds simple until the rules such as no touching the horse, no use of a lead rope or halter, no bribing the horse with real or imagined food. There are consequences if these rules are broken so participants realize very quickly how difficult it can be to complete the task. Issues such as anger management, frustration, control and the ability to follow rules will come up providing the opportunity for verbal processing. Participants can be asked to relate the activity to their experiences by deciding who was represented by the horse, by the participant or by the activity itself.
Working in a corral, arena, round pen or pasture provides a natural setting where spontaneity occurs more readily. Often, participants do not realize or acknowledge that therapy is occurring. Those who have learned to control or manipulate situations during traditional office therapy will find it challenging when working with a horse. The activities; be it ground exercises or on horseback, inherently demand an immediate reaction from the participants. From the moment they are presented with the horse, participants use the same coping mechanisms as they do with other stressful factors in their lives. The participant’s issues usually rise to the surface much quicker during a session than they would in an office setting and can be dealt with sooner.
In a safe and fun setting, we look at what arises between horse and human…perhaps issues of trust, connection, intimacy, relationship building, boundaries and assertiveness.
We provide experiential programs to promote social skills, build self-confidence, improve communications and resolve conflict. We serve clients from all walks of life and address emotional issues such as anger, depression, anxiety and frustration. Our experiential programs address social skills, build self-confidence, improve communications and resolve conflict as well as our educational horsemanship programs to build skills and confidence with a focus on relationships.
BENEFITS OF EQUINE FACILITATED PSYCHOTHERAPY
- Breaks down defense barriers
- Challenges in a non-threatening way
- The horse is a non-judgmental and honest friend
- Promotes a motivating environment
- Enhances problem-solving skills
- Provides immediate cause-effect situations
- Decreases feelings of hopelessness
- Stimulates creativity
- Encourages responsibility
- Captivates and holds attention
- Helps teach empathy
- Empowers and gives a sense of control over self
- Develops social skills
- Teaches better communication skills