Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is a form of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) which aims to encourage well-being through the use of horses as co-therapists and the facilitators of therapy. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy uses the interaction of humans and horses to empower recovery. Horse professionals and psychotherapists are present throughout.
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is used to encourage the transformation of dysfunctional patterns to successful patterns, provide cause and effect situations, help break down defence barriers and provide non-threatening challenges. As a result EAP is often used as a method which lowers emotional barriers.
Horses have come to the fore in Animal Assisted Therapy for a number of reasons. They are large and can intimidate people; however, this then provides the opportunity to safely overcome that fear. Horses are social animals with their own personality, mood and role within the social group. Horses suggest their response to a situation through their body language. This allows participants to see how a change in their actions resulted in a change in the way the horse responds to them.
EAP is considered experiential and often used in the short-term. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy does not focus on horsemanship or riding as it uses teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, non-verbal communication and assertiveness workshops instead.
Traditionally EAP is used to help with attention deficit disorder cases, substance abuse, depression, anxiety and communication needs. The technique received wide public attention after troubled British football legend Paul (Gazza) Gascoigne was reported by the press as receiving the treatment.
In Pure Spirit
How important are animals in our well-being? Do we have to be careful in any form of Animal Assisted Therapy that the animals are not being exploited?