Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Horse's are becoming more popular in therapy and for good reason!

  • Immediate feedback: Since horses are prey animals they have developed the ability to sense a person’s feelings and respond accordingly. Because of this, they can serve as a mirror which allows that client and the therapist to see and understand feelings the client may not be aware of.

  • Opportunities for learning: the person can use their interactions with the horse to evaluate and modify the way they interact with people. The therapist can also use the horses as a way to open conversation about the person’s presenting issues.

  • Opportunities for trust-building:  for someone who is uncomfortable talking in a traditional therapy setting, or who has trouble trusting might find equine therapy to be a safe environment where they can open up and develop trust, both between himself and the horses and between themselves and their therapist.

  • Healthy relationships: horses offer people a non-judging relationship, which can help a person struggling with negative relationship consequences the ability to rebuild their confidence without fear of criticism.

What does equine therapy look like?

Therapy looks different for every client and will move through the phases at different paces. Some clients stay at phase 1 the entire time and others will move quickly to phase 3.

 Phase 1: Grooming and getting acquainted with the horse

Phase 2: Learning to lead and use horse language

Phase 3: Working with the horse freestyle

What is Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning?

How It Works

“I have had many ‘talk therapies’ in my life, but this was totally different and very powerful – I could step away from my usual intellectualizing and just be and maybe it was this that enabled me to gain so much insight and to really ‘cut through’ stuff. This therapy has really changed things for me. I have noticed less fear and more inner stability.” (client with history of domestic violence and mental health diagnosis, after six one-hour EAGALA sessions).

Why Horses?

EAGALA Model Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Personal Development is experiencing rapid growth around the globe.

Why? In two words: STRONG OUTCOMES. Equine-assisted work often helps clients change and grow more effectively and quickly than traditional clinical and psycho-educational approaches.

That's because people typically learn best by doing. Life lessons take deeper root when individuals both understand them in their heads and experience them in their bodies. Working with horses is engaging, real time and hands-on. The experience is immediate and fully felt. 

So why horses and not other animals?

Horses are large and powerful. This creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. Working alongside a horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides wonderful insight when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.

Horses are social animals, with defined roles within their herds. They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes and moods; an approach that works with one horse won’t necessarily work with another. At times, they seem stubborn and defiant. They like to have fun. In other words, horses are a lot like us socially - when we work on our relationships with them, we in turn are learning how to improve our relationships with others. 

Horses respond with unique insight into exactly who we are in the moment. They are profoundly gifted reflectors of our true selves because their very survival depends on reading us right. 

Because they can read and respond to the nonverbal messages we are always sending, they begin to act in ways that feel familiar to other relationships or dynamics in our lives. They become our spouse, partner, colleague, children, dreams, fears, addictions, etc. and begin to act out these very dynamics in our lives. This gives us a chance to work through those relationships and issues in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. 

A client may say, "This horse is stubborn. That horse doesn't like me," etc. The lesson is that by changing ourselves, the horses respond differently. They provide this immediate feedback to real changes that we make - not what we just talk about. 

For some reason, even when we feel stuck or hopeless, the horses move and make changes in the space, which in turn helps us become "unstuck." Clients repeatedly report that the horses seem to act and be exactly what is needed in the moment. 


It's all on the ground

EAGALA sessions involve no horseback riding. Why? In this work, the horses are able to be themselves and not have to act a certain way, just like our clients can do. This is a space to explore, be ourselves, and build relationships on equal footing.

Solution-oriented for all ages

EAGALA sessions are facilitated by a certified team of mental health professional and equine specialist who hold the space for clients and horses to interact. Life stories begin unfolding symbolically in a safe and supportive setting. We believe that clients of all ages and needs truly have their own best solutions. As the horses play out scenarios, clients gain insights and begin to see and feel shifts in themselves as well.

EAGALA Model Logo FINAL.jpg

The EAGALA Model

The Eagala Model is a distinctive experiential framework designed to allow clients the latitude to discover, learn, and grow from the horse-human relationship.

Known as equine-assisted psychotherapy, or equine-assisted learning depending on the session objectives, the Eagala Model is the global standard for professionals. Here's why:

The Eagala Model is highly professional.

Eagala is the leading association offering a fully-developed, professionally endorsed treatment model for mental health professionals practicing equine-assisted psychotherapy. The Eagala Model stands alone in the world of equine-assisted psychotherapy and personal development because of the model's standards, code of ethics, continuing education requirements, replicable framework, and team approach. Under the Eagala Model, both a registered, credentialed Mental Health Professional and a certified Equine Specialist work together collaboratively at all times to assure clients get the therapeutic attention and support they need as they make life changes.

The most effective work happens on the ground.

The Eagala Model involves no riding or horsemanship, making it both safe and effective. Clients work directly with horses face-to-face on the same footing. This ground level work enables clients to better perceive the horses' actions and reactions as they work to process and solve their life challenges. Under the trained eye of the Eagala Treatment Team, horses offer clients honest feedback and usable information that helps them understand how their process and actions affect others and impacts their lives.

The Eagala Model is client-centered and solution-oriented.

The work is built on the premise that it's the clients who best determine the kinds of life changes they need to make in order to improve their lives. The job of the Eagala treatment team is to put the Eagala Model to work to meet the clients' goals by engaging the unique intuitive power of horses to help them understand their process and practice the changes they want to make in a safe, supportive setting.

Information Gathered from: http://www.eagala.org