Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is a team-based, therapeutic approach that promotes change and growth in an individual by interacting with horses.
Through the on-ground interactions—EAP is not a riding or horsemanship program—metaphors are created as a way to address current emotional, psychological and interpersonal challenges, as well as healthier ways to respond to them. It also affords a safe environment to challenge current beliefs and ways of thinking that may be influencing behavioral patterns.
Focuses and Benefits of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
By using horses as metaphorical representations, equine assisted therapy is a short term solution to help an individual focus on their current behavioral and thought pattern challenges. There are four primary focuses of EAP that help a person do so:
- Emotional Regulation
- Problem Solving
Through the interactions during the therapy sessions, this types of solution has been found to help problems like anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance abuse disorders, impulse control issues and others.
Horses As Metaphors
As prey animals horses are a good mirror into the issues an individual brings into therapy. Horses live in the moment and are acutely aware of the situations around them. This allows people to learn about their own thoughts, feeling and behaviors during the interactions as the horse reacts from moment to moment.
Horses have the same basic ranges of personality traits. Understanding the physical, mental and social needs of the animal allows one to gain the skills needed for future interpersonal relationships after treatment.
Experienced-based therapies like equine assisted psychotherapy are a great way to reinforce the concepts one learns in other treatment areas and see those ideas in practice in the real world.