Equine Therapy

What is Equine Therapy?

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy brings horses and humans together. By studying the interaction between human and horse in a variety of activities, the psychotherapist can gather a great deal of information about how a patient interacts with others.

This form of therapy is largely non-verbal and requires a great deal of emotional input from the patient. It’s carried out in an experiential manner, which is highly effective for those who are unable to talk about their feelings and communicate with others. The horse will react to the patient’s emotional state, offering insight and awareness for the psychotherapist to build on during rehabilitation.

Horses are prey animals. They have evolved to work together in a herd, and because of this, horses have learned to engage and bond with those around them. When you depend on a horse for practical purposes (i.e. survival), you are part of the herd – they depend on you to survive, and you depend on them. If one member of the herd is startled, the entire herd respond in the same way. For the animal, it’s a matter of life and death.

As a result, horses can respond to the emotional state of humans, without need for verbal communication. They can sense fear, anxiety and respect, and they react accordingly without the preconceptions that exist with human interaction.

Because of this sensitivity, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy helps patients understand and cater for the needs of others, without thinking about themselves first. Oftentimes, people with addictions tend to consider and attempt to fulfil their own desires.

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy helps people gain self-awareness and an insight into how their actions might affect others. It helps them develop the skills they need to understand and interpret the non-verbal language of others.

How does Equine therapy work?

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy uses a highly structured, activity-based approach to promote personal growth, responsibility and provide resolution from trauma. Focused EAP is designed to enhance healthy interaction, empower people positively and break down the barriers that prevent communication. It is a rewarding and effective treatment for addiction, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues including post-traumatic stress.

There’s a common misconception with Equine Assisted Psychotherapy: people believe that this form of therapy involves riding horses to overcome trauma and addiction. In actuality, there is no horse riding at Camino. Instead, it uses activities and tasks to bring the horse and patient closer together in a gentle environment from the ground and involves no riding of the horse itself.

To find out more about Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, watch our video below:

What are the main benefits of Equine therapy?

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy helps you gain clarity over boundaries and relationships. Like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR), it is an effective treatment for trauma, which is a common factor that leads to addictions.

This form of treatment helps patients to:

  • Build bonds of trust and support.
  • Improve verbal and non-verbal communication within relationships.
  • Gain personal insight into boundaries and relationships.
  • Increase your attention span and your readiness to learn about yourself and others.
  • Build your confidence and self-esteem.

In short, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is a great way to improve communication, develop self-awareness and learn how to tend to the needs of others, without putting your own needs first.

Camino Recovery and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Camino Recovery is one of Europe’s leading centres for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.

Don Lavender, our Programme Director, is one of the pioneers in this field, and worked on the development of the treatment in the U.S., eventually bringing it to the U.K. and the rest of Europe during the Spring of 2002.

Don has written extensively on the subject and has published a book entitled ‘Equine Utilised Psychotherapy (Dance with Those That Run with Laughter)’.

Common Equine Assisted Psychotherapy FAQ's

Given that Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is a unique approach to addiction and trauma recovery, there are undoubtedly many questions worth asking.

Here are some common FAQs:

Yes. We have a considerable amount of experience with this type of treatment. Our Programme Direction, Don Lavender, has more than 40 years of experience in the field and have worked with Equine Assisted Psychotherapy since its inception in the ‘90s. We apply a great deal of care and awareness for both the horses and the clients.

Equine Psychotherapy is the process of using horses to assist in the field of rehabilitating people with developmental disorders such as Children with Autism. 

No. Since patients do not ride horses, horse-riding experience is not required. A comfort level with horses will help, but you’ll work under supervision with a psychotherapist in a soft and gentle environment, so there is no danger involved.

No. The session involves working slowly and gently from the ground only. 

The innate nature of a horse means that they can read and interpret the subtle reactions and body language movements of a patient. Horses are regarded as a ‘divine mirror’ and reflect human emotion without the preconception of judgement. 

If you have any more questions, or you’d like to speak with a Clinician, contact us below.

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