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what is equine assisted psychotherapy?

Updated on December 28, 2009

Everyone has issues.

If you have ever tried traditional talk therapy you know it takes time, strength and more time to get to the real issues in your life. Hundreds of treatment facilities across the country use this modality knowing how the results speak for themselves. It is experiential in nature which means you use ALL of your senses to learn. Thus when you see or here the metaphor that evolved during your activity with the horses the information sticks with you. You then can go out into life and use this information to have a more peaceful, happy life.

So how does this all work? Well horses are highly intuitive to energy. What does this mean? It means if you say you are ok, not mad yet inside your are very angry, you are incongruent. To a horse that means your NOT safe. They prefer not to work with you. They are in the moment, hold no grudges and immediately settle their differences. They do not understand this type of energy. They show me, the horse professional, this discomfort by numerous little movements. I interpret this to the licensed therapist that is my treatment team partner and we then help the client see this.

How does this help in their recovery, growth? If you don't know what you are feeling, if you don't know when you are incongruent, if you don't know that you are acting out on those that you love then this is invaluable.

The other thing we focus a lot on is getting into the true feelings of the person. Lots of folks have one particular feeling that scares them. Some think if they go into their grief they will go so far down into the pits they may never return. People with anger and rage who don't visit those feelings store them until they explode and have a negative impact on all those around them. The horses can show you what acceptance looks like when going to those particular feelings and when you are there. They immediately will become engaged with you, want to share space with you and will literally stand with you while you process and experience this feeling in a comfortable and safe environment.

We also work with boundaries in almost every exercise/activity that we plan. People who can not set and keep boundaries feel resentful, taken for granted and put upon. A horse in it's world sets boundaries so often you may not even see them doing so. When doing an activity with a horse if you cross a boundary there will be a slight ever so noticeable warning. As the horse professional I then let the therapist know this information. Addicts have the worst boundaries for themselves and with others. Codependents tend to say yes to everything, have no clear boundaries and then regret the fact that they can't say no later on.

Horses will let you know if you are congruent, if you have good boundaries, if you have high or low self esteem and if you are comfortable to be around. By doing specific activities that we choose, you will learn if you are focused on goals or on your relationships. If you have a particular pattern that does not work in your life. You will see metaphors that mirror your life and those reveal both the positive and negative lessons to be learned.

While working with the treatment team the horse or horses will mirror you in many ways. If you are depressed with low energy the horse will pick up on this. We have had horses lie down in the middle of activities with severely depressed clients who didn't even believe they were depressed. See this is an eye opening experience for clients.

Clients who have anxiety or stress really see what that looks like in the form of a horse. The horse will have a hard time "holding" that energy and will act out in many forms. We wonder why our children act up when we are in the worst moods. They too are energy feeling beings and just display that with no thought or intent.

You can learn to modulate your feelings so that life can begin to get easier. How would your personal and work relationships better by being more serene and even keeled? I don't know many who would not see an improvement in those areas if they had this tool.

If you have questions or would like to educate yourself on how Equine Assisted Psychotherapy may be beneficial and expedite your personal growth please don't hesitate to ask. I hope this information was helpful and you seek out a EAGALA certified team to do your emotional work with. Do not do this type of work with anyone who is not internationally certified threw EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association). They have ethics and training that surpasses anything that is in existence today.

Good luck in your healing. Kirstin Mason (horse professional) Meaningful Solutions.


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    • Resolver2009 profile image

      Resolver2009 8 years ago from Bournemouth, UK / Oslo, Norway

      A truly fascinating read Karmi! Makes perfect sense. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, I find psychotherapy incredibly interesting.