A Horse Can Promote Positive Mental Health Through Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy

A Horse Can Promote Positive Mental Health Through Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Equine-assisted psychotherapy is a hands-on cathartic and experiential therapy modality known to help people cope with PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse, and more. This form of therapy is best in addition to traditional therapy for those who love being around animals and enjoy spending time outdoors. 

Did you know that horses have senses powerful enough to understand how a client is feeling? With this type of therapy, everyday situations and struggles are applied to equine-assisted psychotherapy process groups. This hands-on approach to therapy utilizes the Eagala Model. This activity-based program subconsciously creates a challenge the client is facing in life, allowing them to work through the equestrian challenge and figure out a healthy coping strategy and resolution. 

With interpretation, clients can experience the horse’s actions and apply the scenarios to their own life. This, in turn, affects how the client handles social interaction with others, conflict resolution, relationships, motivation for change situations, and much more, all while in the great outdoors. 

This eagala model integrates therapy and hands-on activities that promote essential skills such as emotional regulation, responsibility, and self-confidence; simply engaging with the horse in an activity based session…by leading, grooming, and feeding it, with a therapist present,” said Tiffany Atalla, FRW Therapist.

This form of therapy would be perfect for those who may be apprehensive about pouring out their emotions to a therapist, as it only requires a client to commune with the horses. These beautiful animals can sense and respond to the client’s emotions and relay them back to both the client and the therapist.

Equine-assisted psychotherapy is recommended for both men, women, teens, and children of most ages, as long as they are old enough to walk. 

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy client connecting with a horse, who in return will relay the detected emotions to the therapist.

What is the Eagala Model?

The Eagala Model is proven effective because it embraces the science that people learn best by doing. This model allows for a hands-on approach where clients are provided space to project and analyze their life situations, forge connections, and find a positive solution or a coping strategy. Since the solutions are personally experienced in conjunction with intellectual understanding, they tend to be deeper, profound, and longer-lasting when compared to other forms of therapy. 

How does it work?

The Eagala Model is a team approach that includes a licensed, credentialed mental health professional, a qualified equine specialist, and horses working together with the client in an arena at all times.

When inside the arena, all the work is done on the ground with the horses front and center, deliberately unhindered and never ridden, and allowed to interact with the client as they wish. This creates the space for the client, with the support of the professional facilitators, to reflect, project, and make deep connections.