Q: What is Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)?
EAP and EAL are experiential in nature. No horse experience is necessary. This means that the participants learn about themselves and others by engaging in activities with the horses and then processing (or discussing) behaviors, feelings, thoughts and patterns. Experiential learning is “learning by doing” and engages the heart, mind and body. The difference between the two is that EAL focuses more on learning or educational goals and EAP is a more therapeutic approach. Both models utilize a horse professional and a licensed mental health therapist. I am also an EMDRIA trained Equine-Assisted EMDR therapist through Sarah A. Jenkins’s EquiLateral: The Equine-Assisted EMDR Protocol.
Sessions are conducted with clients on the ground (not on the horse). Some of the work we do with horses and participants involve body, emotion and mind awareness through reflective sessions with the horses both individually and while they are all together in a herd.
Q: How can horses be helpful for self-development and personal growth?
Horses are the masters of emotional and social intelligence and non-verbal communication. As an animal that is preyed upon in nature, horses have an inherent, heightened awareness of their environment and the ability to read intent. Horses intuitively sense our emotions and energies around them and in turn, mirror and reflect those emotions and energies when interacting with us. They respond to what we are actually communicating thus providing honest, authentic and instant feedback. The horse becomes a bio-feedback mechanism in which we see ourselves and how we can measure our energy, intention, effectiveness and non-verbal communication. Horses are master teachers for helping us with empowerment, confidence building, developing leadership skills and helping us become aware of areas for growth. By interacting with the horse you will receive a moment by moment reflection of yourself and have the opportunity to experience in creating the change you want.