Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

A girl pets a horse.

Our all girls therapeutic boarding school uses equine assisted psychotherapy a powerful and effective therapeutic approach that has an incredible impact on individuals, youth, families, and groups. Equine assisted psychotherapy addresses a variety of mental health and human development needs including behavioral issues, attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, abuse issues, depression, anxiety, relationship problems and communication needs. We believe that there is a powerful bond with horses that enables people to further understand their own problems, and work to make meaningful changes to those internal issues.

What is equine assisted psychotherapy?

Equine assisted psychotherapy is a type of experiential therapy where patients get to be around and help care for horses. This may involve riding horses, but certainly doesn’t have to. In fact, there are far more therapeutically valuable activities with horses that provide greater benefits, such as feeding, playing, grooming, and doing chores that improve the horse’s quality of life. Benefits of equine assisted psychotherapy can occur with other animals, as well. There is a reason that therapy pets are an important part of the therapy world today! But horses have an immutable bond with people that has proven indefinitely valuable.

What makes equine assisted psychotherapy an effective therapeutic approach?

Equine assisted psychotherapy needs three things to happen: a patient, a horse, and a skilled therapist that is trained in this therapeutic method. When these things are in place, there is a variety of benefits that occur:

  • Patients learn to take care of another being and gain awareness of how their actions affect others.
  • Horses react to people in very empathetic ways, which gives both the patient and therapist feedback about the patient’s actions.
  • Relationships built between horses and people help build empathy in those people, since horses don’t approach relationships with the same judgements as humans.
  • A lesson in trust building occurs when a person must take care of a horse, especially when they need to groom and ride it. This helps build trust between a patient and a therapist, as well, which is crucial for further therapeutic development.