Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)

EAP is a unique approach within the professional field in which horses are used as a tool for emotional growth and learning. EAP is a collaborative effort between a qualified counsellor and a horse professional. Due to its intensity and effectiveness it is sometimes considered a "short term" or "brief" approach.

EAP is experiential in nature. This means that the participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then processing (or discussing) feelings, behaviours and patterns.

The focus of EAP is not riding or horsemanship, in fact 100% of EAP takes place on the ground.The focus of EAP involves the use of activities involving the horses that requires the client or group to apply certain skills. Non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking and problem-solving are qualities that are applied by the client(s) during a EAP session. Discussing and processing what has been witnessed by the team and the experience of the cleint(s) will have an impact in various ways. Unconscious body language, behavioural patterns are uncovered through their interaction with the horse.

EAP is a powerful and effective therapeutic approach that has an incredible impact on individuals, youth, families and groups.EAP addresses a variety of mental health and human development needs including behavioural issues, attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, abuse issues, anxiety and low moods, relationship problems and communication needs.

See also Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)

Why Horses?

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man" ~ Sir Winston Churchill

Horses are large and powerful, which creates a natural opportunity for some people to overcome fear and develop confidence. This size and power can naturally intimidate many people. Accomplishing a task involving the horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.

Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals. They have defined roles within their herds.They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes and moods.An approach that seems to work with one horse, does not necessarily work with another. At times they seem stubborn and defiant.They like to have fun. In other words, horses provide a vast opportunity for metaphorical learning. Using metaphors in discussion, or activity, is an effective technique when working with even the most challenging individuals or groups.

Most importantly horses have the ability to mirror exactly what human body language is telling them. Many people complain, “The horse is stubborn, or the horse doesn’t like me”, the lesson to be learnt is that if they changed themselves, the horses respond differently. Horses are honest, which makes them especially powerful messengers.

Horses are able to listen to our inner self, the real self rather than the person we let other's see. Using this ability, without judgement they are able to hold a mirror up to us for us to see ourselves "truely".

EAP can be tailored to suit your business needs and can be part of an Employee Assisted Programme.

Can horses help humans beat anxiety?

Angela experiences Equine Assisted Psychotherapy for the first time. She wants to overcome her anxiety.

Here's a local BBC story about EAP in action:

An EAP session is conducted with a quailfied counsellor and a horse professional in accordance to the standards and ethics of the EAGALA model.