Equine Assisted Therapy is practised with success in the treatment of mental health, emotional, behavioural and relationship issues. We would usually recommend a structured programme after initial assessment of between 12 and 18 sessions with an evaluation every 6 sessions. The sessions are normally held weekly for between an hour and 90 minutes.
Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) is a collaborative therapy model incorporating horses within a psychotherapy treatment programme for emotional growth, learning and healing.
It can also be utilised within a personal development, learning, educational, counselling, a coaching environment or group development programme.
Working with families or groups and with individuals of all ages, our qualified team provides powerful opportunities to get to the heart of issues which leads to healthier communication, stronger partnerships and happier relationships.
The design of the programme and the focus of the facilitator or therapist’s presentation of the experiential exercises will ensure a tailored delivery, meeting the specific needs of the individual or group. Whether working with addictions, trauma, social and behavioural disorders, depression or many other issues, we can help people find meaningful, lasting solutions.
In an experiential setting the participants learn about themselves and their relationships with others by engaging in activities with the horses, then processing and or discussing thoughts, beliefs, behaviours and patterns. All experiences are structured to require the client to take the initiative, make decisions and be accountable for the results. Specific treatment goals, objectives and interventions are identified and documented. Sessions are structured and facilitated to deliberately address the reasons clients came to the Equine Therapy Center.
Throughout the learning or therapy process, the client is actively engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, soulfully and physically, which leads to a very personal form of therapy which can form the basis of future experiences and learning. Non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking, problem-solving, leadership, taking responsibility, teamwork, relationships, confidence and attitude are several examples of the tools utilised and developed by this therapy model.
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Almost without exception this client group struggle significantly with trust issues, which arises from long histories of adverse experiences in their human relationships. Our trauma treatment model focuses on establishing physical and emotional safety as the basis for successful recovery by helping clients become more aware of themselves and the incongruence’s in their lives. The horse offer a truly safe emotional attachment experience, which is free of any power or control issues and for many of our rehabilitation clients, this is likely to be the only relationship of this nature that they have experienced. The ‘magic’ of EFP can be explained in neuro-scientific terms by the fact that there is a remarkable similarity between the limbic (emotional) brain of horses and humans. Horses can therefore serve as both our mirrors and our teachers in terms of emotional intelligence, congruence and relationship. The lessons learned with our equine companions are experiential embodying and so new neural pathways are more easily created and reinforced. When something is learned, relearned and set down in an experiential and feeling-based way as it is in EFP, the learning can be more easily transferred to the human sphere of relating and therefore helps to create lasting and positive change for the client.
It is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with both depression and an anxiety disorder, or depression and general anxiety. About half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Teens: Depression is not your fault or caused by something you did wrong.
Children with depression may display these symptoms:
- Depressed or irritable mood
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Change in grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school
- Change in eating habits
- Feeling angry or irritable
- Mood swings
- Feeling worthless or restless
- Frequent sadness or crying
- Withdrawing from friends and activities
- Loss of energy
- Low self-esteem
- Thoughts of death or suicide
When symptoms last for a short period of time, it may be a passing case of “the blues.” But if they last for more than two weeks and interfere with regular daily activities and family and school life, your child may have a depressive disorder. There are two types of depression: major depression and dysthymia. Major depression lasts at least two weeks and may occur more than once throughout your child’s life. Your child may experience major depression after a traumatic event such as the death of a relative or friend. Dysthymia is a less severe but chronic form of depression that lasts for at least two years. Children whose parents have depression are at a greater risk of being depressed. While depression affects all ages and both genders, girls are more likely to develop depression during adolescence. Research shows that depression is also a risk factor for suicide. Depression and anxiety disorders can often be treated the same way and at the same time. Like anxiety disorders, depression can be treated with cognitive-behavioural therapy and antidepressants.
Often our clients come to us feeling anxious about all kinds of things, including working with horses! We acknowledge that this is a reasonable position to take “horses are big and powerful. They can hurt us if we don’t know what we are doing”. We help them understand how horses think and why they do the things they do. We teach them about many ways to help keep themselves safe and not only with the horses. Setting good boundaries and staying present and in the moment are both things that are important in working with horses, but that come in handy in the rest of our lives as well. Our clients are allowed to progress at their own pace, working through their anxiety a bit at a time, till they are feeling much more confident and capable. This is just one of many areas where work with horses can be very powerful.
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, we invite you to come on out and see what we are doing. We will show you around, introduce you to our wonderful horses, learn more about the challenges you are dealing with and share how we might be able to help. Call or email today to arrange a visit.
Individuals who are adopting and those being adopted often face significant challenges. Many young people who are in care or who have been put up for adoption come with a traumatic history, failing to form trusting, safe, secure, loving bonds, both pre and post-natal, in the early days, months and years which can have a significant effect on our capability to manage in life. Not having a stable primary care giver within our early years can lead to a range of behavioural, emotional and mental issues including the inability to form normal trusting, loving and social relationships. Either trying to support a young person with attachment disorder or being an adult/young person with an attachment disorder is difficult; individuals are often moody with significant swings in behaviour (often not understanding why they feel a certain way), lacking in self-confidence and having an inability to receive or give physical affection.
Working through the sometimes felt but unexplainable anger, shame, resentment, depressive and often unworthy feelings with a horse, ensures that clients can have a safe, grounded and non-judgemental partner at their side whilst exploring what needs to change within them in order to help them focus on building current relationships within their new adoptive family. They will come to acknowledge their own past, hopefully accepting and understanding themselves somatically, which will enable them to build positive, healthy neural pathways and habits for a successful open future.
Working also with those who are adopting, we can provide insights into their own actions and reactions helping guide and identify strategies that would assist in making life and communication easier.
Family and systemic therapy can be helpful for the individuals within a family to identify, express and explore difficult or distressing thoughts and emotions safely. It helps family members, especially children, couples and others who are in close relationships to understand each individual’s experiences, respecting and appreciating each other’s needs and views. The therapist is there to help identify, define and build on relational strengths to support the individuals to make positive transitional changes in lives that can be transformational for the family unit as a whole.
This form of therapy is conducted in partnership with the family, understanding that families have diverse forms, relationships, beliefs and cultures. Our therapists adapt their way of working to the individual family; it may therefore include Equine Facilitated Therapy or it may be more creative or talking based. We take the lead from the family as to what seems appropriate for them. The sessions may be whole family based, or might be focused on one or more individuals at a time.
Some of the challenges covered under this form of therapy are:
- Parenting issues
- Couple relationship difficulties
- Child adolescent and adult behavioural difficulties
- Illness and disability within the family
- Separation and divorce
- Fostering, adoption and the needs of “looked after children”
- Difficulties relating to ageing and other life cycle challenges
If you would like to discuss your own family’s needs please get in contact with us, to see how we can help.
It’s normal to feel anxious when facing a challenging situation, such as a job interview, a tough exam, or a meeting of some kind. If worries and fears are preventing you from living your life the way you’d like to, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
In moderation, anxiety isn’t a bad thing, it’s the bodies coping mechanism that swings into action when your system says “be alert”. Anxiety can help you stay focused, spur you to action, and motivate you to solve problems. However when anxiety is constant or overwhelming, if it interferes with your relationships and activities, then it’s a good time to get some support to address your anxiety, so that you can better cope with the challenges life has to offer.
Different people experience anxiety in different ways, one person may struggle with a disabling fear of driving, or uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts, but another may live in a constant state of tension, worrying about anything and everything. Despite their different forms, all anxiety disorders share one major symptom: persistent or severe fear or worry in situations where most people wouldn’t feel threatened.
Anxiety can be more than an emotional feeling. As a product of the body’s fight-or-flight response, anxiety involves a wide range of physical symptoms.
It’s important to seek help if you’re starting to avoid certain situations or places because you’re afraid of having a panic attack. We can help people deal with the underlying issues of anxiety so that they learn how to overcome panic attacks. Many people are panic free within just 10 to 12 sessions, you can learn to regulate yourself within 5 – 6 sessions and understand how to manage your anxiety and perceived threats so that you overcome your challenges to allow yourself to live a more full life.
I found this piece by Harriet Williamson to be bluntly honest and candid. She shares how her battle continues. I applaud her for being so aware of the what she needs to do to survive.
We have found that through weekly sessions working with the horses, participants address establishing stronger personal boundaries, developing greater self confidence, improving self-esteem, improving communication and practicing being ‘present in the moment’. They may be with us a short time, only a session or two, or if their stay at the center is longer, we may see them for several months. The growth and change we witness is inspiring. But, in truth, we have also seen participants who graduate and come back through the program as their struggle continues.
Equine Assisted Therapy can be a powerful intervention for those dealing with the struggles of an eating disorder. If you or someone you know is struggling please do come and speak to us, we are here to help. We will introduce you to our wonderful horses and show you around the park. We will listen to what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.
Anger is one of the bodies natural responses to feeling attacked, frustrated, treated unfairly or being lied to. Everyone gets angry sometimes, it’s not always a negative emotion, sometimes it can be really useful and spur us into defensive action, it can help us be motivated to change, or help identify issue that are hurtful.
Anger really only becomes a problem when it harms either the individual who is angry or another person. If you feel that anger is beginning to define you, that you are regularly angry and express yourself through unhelpful or destructive or aggressive behaviour, or if you feel that anger is having a negative effect on your life, your mental and physical health or that of those around you its probably time to get some help.
Not everyone expresses or feels anger in the same way – just like we’re all individual, so is the way we express our emotions. Some people will be outwardly aggressive and violent, shouting, hitting, slamming doors, throwing things, physically violent abusive or threatening towards others. Other people will be inwardly aggressive this may include telling yourself that you are no good, you hate yourself, you could self harm through cutting or deciding not to take care of yourself properly like not eating. In other forms anger can take a more passive direction such as refusal, to speak to integrate or acknowledge people, to decide not to do or take action when asked.
It can be frightening to be around angry people, experiencing anger over a prolonged period can be detrimental to physical health. If you would like to seek some help from a non confrontational, non-judgemental team, speak to us to see how we can help.
Children and adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorder often have difficulties with eye contact, facial expressions, body language and gestures. They may give no or brief eye contact and ignore familiar or unfamiliar people, often they may lack awareness of others and have little or no interest in social interaction with other children or adults.
They can find it hard to understand other people’s emotions and feelings, and have difficulty starting conversations or taking part in them properly. Language development may be delayed, and a child with ASD generally won’t compensate their lack of language or delayed language skills by using gestures (body language) or facial expressions.
Individuals with ASD generally like to have a continuity of routine, even small changes may be hugely challenging to them and result in fear and rage being triggered. Developing the ability to regulate, self-soothe through a connection with a horse helps people with ASD develop skills that assist them to cope more effectively with life. Engaging with our therapists in a wide range of equine, arts and creative or nature based activities provides a learning environment in which they can develop social skills and social based interaction, facing challenges in a supported, safe environment.
We have a great deal of expertise in working with clients who have ASD, if you know someone who could benefit from spending time with us, please get in contact.
“And it is here, beyond the realm of an impersonal psychology, that you may find ways to touch him, and change him”
A.R. Luria, as quoted in The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
A person with onset of dementia faces significant challenges.
The loss of self can be hard to accept, let alone the acute distress that can arise from specific situations or triggers, for example being locked in bad memories, or the overwhelming general anger they can feel about their situation as they move in and out of being fully present.
And so often, there is little direct access to the tailored support individuals need to improve their quality of life. This is partly due to an increasing burden on resources and funding, but also a quiet underlying tendency within the healthcare system to dismiss their longer-term cognitive ability to take in and retain information – put bluntly, what would be the point?
That is where we feel strongly that there is a sense of hope.
The point is, it IS possible to improve quality of life. Through a dementia-specific approach, it is possible to help individuals out of the recurring loop of bad memories, to move them on from being angry all the time, to give them the opportunity to share their story, to be heard, to have fun: to live a more fulfilled life for longer.
More research is being done around the world to explore the impact of alternative sensory somatic therapies on improving quality of life for people with dementia, improving mood, behaviour and possibly cognition. We note that Australia in particular is very forward thinking combining different therapies for greater effect*. Art, music, aromatherapy, touch therapy – all stimulates the sensory somatic nervous system to promote a sense of well-being and reduce anxiety.
For example, we have all experienced how smelling a particular scent can trigger a vivid memory and associated emotion within a split second. This demonstrates why a person-centred counselling approach is crucial – it is currently recognised that therapies individually tailored for the person with dementia are most impactful for them.
We believe this approach enables us to understand and work with people in line with their preferred interests, abilities, preferred music and so on. We have a great deal of expertise in working with clients who have dementia alongside providing support to their carers. If you know someone who could benefit from spending time with us, please get in contact.