Equine Assisted Counseling can be so effective for a number of reasons.
The greatest cause of it's effectiveness is the bond factor that is right there at the core of us all. We need to bond and feel connected to others including nature and animals. When we learn to connect safely to an animal the ability to have safe human connections follows.
The horse is a non-judgmental, feedback provider. They respond to our emotions, especially our strong ones like fear and anxiety and doubt. The therapist uses this information from the horse to get to the bottom of what is going on with in the child. Feelings are sometimes hard to describe; the horse takes what is felt, but not stated verbally and expresses it for a person through it’s behavior.
In this work we also find metaphors and people love metaphors! The horse is big; so are our problems, the horse ignores us, people sometimes ignore us, the horse needs a lot of care, people need a lot of care. These parallels are being recognized constantly in Equine Counseling.
Let’s not underestimate the power of fun and adventure. Being with the horse is enjoyable, it is even magical for a lot of people. It is also a perfect vehicle for increasing the ability to stay calm and regulate our anxiety quickly. We learn to be calm for the horse; what a powerful motivator.
Learning to manage and direct a horse is an incredible confidence booster.
In a traditional Cognitive Behavioral Approach Model a client who is struggling with believing in herself may be asked to list reasons she should have more confidence. In Equine Assisted Counseling the client would be asked to say these reasons out loud while leading a horse around a ring. The horse won’t follow the client if they don’t really believe what they are saying. As soon as the client truly believes in herself the horse will respond differently.
These are different ways to interact with and relate to a horse according to Dr. Kay Trotter author of “Equine Assisted Counseling” :
- Tactile and touching: Includes grooming or giving the horse a massage. Interacting with such large animals empowers the client while increasing self-esteem and self-confidence. The rhythmic motion of grooming can also be soothing and calming for both the horse and client.
- Verbal: The way the client speaks to the horse can reveal how the individual relates to other people.
- Riding and groundwork: Leading the horse from the ground or in the saddle can provide insight into a client’s sense of power or helplessness.
Equine assisted therapy offers kids with emotional and behavioral issues a safe environment in which to work through issues of fear, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, poor communication and much more. By teaching the child how to work with and communicate with the horse, the therapist will be directly and indirectly teaching the child how to apply these same skills in inter-personal relationships and build upon their relationship with the “Self”.
For more information on Equine Assisted Counseling contact Tanya at firstname.lastname@example.org