Over the last three decades there has been an onslaught
of research to use horses in various kinds of therapies. One of the most common is Hippotherapy which is the use of horses to assist in occupational, physical, and speech therapy. However, horses are also used in mental health treatment. This form of therapy may be called various names such as equine facilitated therapy, Hippotherapy, equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP), equine facilitated psychotherapy (EFP)…and the list goes on. For these forms of therapy, they are often conducted by a licensed therapist or counselor. However, there is also equine facilitated learning that is often conducted by persons who are not licensed providers but still trained in activites within this technique.
EFP at Whispering Winds Therapy
Some of the science has found that horses’ nervous systems are similar to ours and their mirror neurons are able to reflect back our body language and behaviors which may provide a visual of our own actions often in a way that we cannot argue with.
I am trained in a variation fo EFP called Equusoma. In this modality, horses are co-facilitators along with the therapist during the session. In a sense, they are viewed as a professional. During session, horses lend their nervous systems to the client during the therapeutic process. This allows the client to work through their nervous system processes externally and internally. This format provide space for the client and the horse to be seen and be heard. Read more about our services here and about our story here.
No Horse Sense Needed!
EAP is not only for “horse people”. Horse
experience is unnecessary. In fact, equine therapy may be more difficult for “horse people” as they often have preconceived notions of horse/human relationships that may have to be worked through in order for equine therapy to be effective. However, the benefit to this may be a strengthened relationship with the clients’ horse counterpart. EAP may take on many different approaches to include observing the herd, interactions with horses, activity based interactions with horses, or even therapeutic riding.
At Whispering Winds, the foundation of EAP may be completed via Telehealth. Currently, we are working on building a site location to provide in person sessions; however, there may be options for onsite sessions if the client has their own horse and an appropriate location. Contact us to find out more!