How does the Therapy work?
Therapeutic interactions combine the wisdom of the horse as teacher and the skills and experience of the therapist and facilitator together with the hopes and challenges of the person working with the horse. This process reconnects with the person’s natural ability to heal.
Initiating the process, individualized goals are set, a plan is developed and progress is monitored as the horses lead the person to a more authentic and fulfilled life.
Engaging with horses allows people to experience pure relationship. For some, working with the horses is their first authentic relationship with another being. As horses hold very deep emotions for people, they are the perfect medium to help people reconnect in relationship. It is much safer to explore our relationship with a horse than another human being. They offer unconditional support and love to people without judgment. This starts the process of trusting self and others.
Being in the presence of a horse brings feelings to the surface Regardless of whether the feelings generated are negative or positive, the relationship is a healing one because of the presence of the feeling itself. This facilitates emotional learning as people identify their feelings with greater ease and clarity, which opens the door to new choices for relationship and emotional growth.
The intimacy of the human and horse experience lays the foundation for safe physical affection. This may be a rare opportunity for people to feel the benefits of non-threatening touch with a living being, generating feelings and sensations that can not be evoked through traditional forms of therapy. People feel ‘heard’ and ‘felt’ through this intimate contact.
In the end, people begin to look at the horses’ behaviour to better understand their own, helping them see both themselves and the world in new ways, adding new skills to aid them as they take a more fulfilled role in our society.
Who Benefits from EFP
An alternative to more traditional ‘talk therapy’, this program is specially designed to help adolescents and adults deal with a wide variety of mental health issues including: behavioural concerns, anxiety, stress, burnout, substance abuse/addiction, depression, eating disorders, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and sexual/physical abuse issues.
Why are horses good facilitators in therapy?
Horses are one of the more powerful and majestic forms of prey in the natural world. Their survival is dependent upon their sensitive observational skills and compelling intuitive responses to their environment.
There is a growing awareness and understanding of how horses mirror and respond to energy. Because the physical threat to our survival as human beings has been minimized by the modern world, the awareness of our energetic selves has diminished. We tend to focus more on our cognitive and intellectual capacities rather than on our energetic and feeling capacities.
Connecting with horses teaches people how to connect with the intelligence of their hearts, leading to intuition, insights and social sensitivity. By accessing this heart wisdom they can understand how to empower themselves through heart-based living.
Horses have an amazing ability to mirror exactly what the human body and emotions are telling them. They provide insight while making contact with the true nature of participants. As a prey animal, horses can sense any indecision or insecurity that humans experience. The immediate response of the horse guides people to change their behaviour in response.
The sheer size of a horse makes its presence commanding. Working with horses gives individuals a concrete, external way to master aspects of themselves that frighten them the most. By confronting these human fears, people gain more courage to brave life and to see problems in a new way.
Horses have much to teach about the various forms of communication. They don’t use words but can convey so much through body language, movement, and posture. People are always communicating. Everything they think, feel, do and say sends out a message. Horses help people become aware of how they communicate on every level – verbally, mentally, physically and emotionally. Congruent expression (when what we feel on the inside is the same as what we express on the outside) helps individuals deal with relationship and emotional issues.
Horses teach us how to earn and when to give trust. The ability to open oneself up to trust is challenging. The nature of horses invites trust as they are entirely open with their perceptions, feelings, and have nothing to hide. Honesty and self awareness is enough to open the doors for mutual trust and loving communication.
Trauma cannot be resolved simply by talking about it. It has to be discharged out of the nervous system, which means tracking feelings and sensations in the body. Horses know how to discharge trauma naturally, so people can resonate with the horses’ body and heart and then feel the same resonance in their own body.
Interactions with horse empathy and wisdom bring people closer to their instinctual and authentic self.
FEEL Graduates who are also licensed counselors or psychotherapists are available to work privately with youth and adults. Each session is an hour and a half long and can be scheduled weekly, biweekly or monthly as suited to the situation.