Wealden Counselling and Psychotherapy Service

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is an emerging field of therapy in which horses are used as a tool for emotional growth and learning, and is one of the approaches forming part of our eco-focussed therapies. It is a collaborative effort between a trained therapist and a horse professional. The model used at Wealden Institute is based on EAGALA training (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association).

This form of therapy is experiential in that clients learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, in the arena with the therapists, and then processing (or discussing) feelings, behaviours, and patterns that took place during that time.

The EAGALA model of EAP is practised on the ground; we do not ride the horses. The focus of a session is the setting up of activities for the client which involve the horses and which will require the client up to apply certain skills.

Horses are social animals and they communicate between themselves largely by body language. This means they read the body language of others and their response is expressed in the same way. Very importantly, horses are honest. They do not hold pre-conceived ideas of judgements about people, they react to the here and now reality.

In a typical session, the client is taken into the arena with the two therapists and one or more horses. A simple task is given to the client. The therapists then observe the interaction between client and horses and once the task is complete there is a debriefing time to feed back to the client what was observed in terms of body language both of the horses and the client.

EAP is a powerful and effective therapeutic approach which is proving useful for therapy with individuals, young people, families, and groups. EAP addresses a number of mental health and human development issues, including attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, abuse issues, depression, anxiety, relationship problems and problems resulting from traumatic events.

For more information or to book a session or a course of treatment, please contact Wealden Psychology Institute office using the enquiry form on this page, and we will get back to you.

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