Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is one of the most effective forms of experiential therapy. EAP uses horses as co-therapists for emotional growth and learning. Other types of experiential therapies include adventure based therapy (Outward Bound/Ropes Courses), play therapy, pet therapy and expressive art therapy (art, music and movement).
With EAP, sessions meet the unique needs of each client through the design of specific ground activities involving one or more horses. In each session, the client is instructed to accomplish a specific goal with the help of the horses. The client’s reaction to the horse and the horse’s reaction to the client can help demonstrate problems in thoughts, behaviors, feelings and relationships. Clients are able to explore and discover new and effective solutions to the challenges they face in life through the metaphorical type learning that takes place in the arena. No previous horse experience is necessary. It is not about horseback riding or horsemanship skills. All activities are conducted on the ground.
Our program strengthens and develops: non-verbal and verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking and problem-solving, leadership, trust, responsibility, confidence and relationships. EAP addresses a variety of mental health and human development issues including but not limited to: behavioral issues, ADHD, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, relationship problems, communication needs and team building.
Horses are large and powerful, which creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. A horse’s size and power are naturally intimidating to many people. Accomplishing a task involving the horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.
Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals. They have defined roles within their herds. They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes, and moods. An approach that seems to work with one horse, does not necessarily work with another. At times, they seem stubborn and defiant. They like to have fun.
Horses As Facilitators
Horses have the ability to mirror exactly what human body language is telling them. Horses are honest creatures, which make them especially powerful messengers. When a participant complains that the horse is stubborn, for example, many times the lesson to be learned is that if they change themselves, the horse responds differently.
Working with horses provide vast opportunities for metaphorical learning. Using metaphors, in discussion or activity, is an effective technique when working with even the most challenging individuals or groups.
Equine Assisted Growth & Learning Association (EAGALA) – Visit the EAGALA web site at