Equine-assisted psychotherapy incorporates horses into the therapeutic process. People engage in activities such as grooming, feeding, and leading a horse while being supervised by a mental health professional. Goals of this form of therapy including helping people develop skills such as emotional regulation, self-confidence, and responsibility.
Horses can be used in counselling with individuals of all ages, even with families and groups. Equine therapy offers a therapeutic environment that can feel less threatening and more inviting than a traditional talk therapy office. Offering a much different experience than traditional talk therapy, EAP brings people outdoors and offers an opportunity to use all senses while learning and processing through emotional challenges. Although a variety of animals can be used in the psychotherapeutic process, horses offer unique traits that have made them a top choice for animal-assisted therapies.
Some recorded benefits of Equine therapy include:
- Increased in self-esteem
- Increased in self-respect
- Improved adjustment to routines and guidelines
- Improved focus
- Less stressful friendships
- Reduced aggression
The MiMer centre runs a 10 week Trauma Sensitive Equine Assisted Mindfulness Program. This is designed to take participants, step by step, through how to create a solid and individualized base for mindfulness & meditation practices. It has experiential learning, trauma sensitive mindfulness and creative mindfulness and meditations as its building blocks and incorporates what we know about the benefits of bringing in elements of nature and animals (in this case horses) into relaxing, grounding, resource creating, supportive, reflective, and therapeutic processes.
The founder of the MiMer centre, Katarina Lundgren, has written a blog explaining mindfulness with horses. This includes some practical steps and a mindfulness model to follow.