Archive for December 2010


According to Yalom (1995) “all individuals seeking assistance from a mental health professional have in common two paramount difficulties: (1) establishing and maintaining meaningful interpersonal relationships, and (2) maintain a sense of personal worth (self-esteem)”

* Build relationship skills
* Channel risk taking impulses
* Develop trust
* Gain confidence
* Gain effective coping skills
* Gain problem solving skills
* Gain self-awareness
* Gain self-esteem
* Give and receive needed affection
* Learn basic horsemanship skills
* Learn body language
* Learn boundaries
* Learn respect for self & others
* Learn self-control
* Overcome fears
* Promote a feeling of achievement
* Promote empowerment
* Promote healthy touch
* Reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation
* Team work

Children as well as adults sometimes have unhealthy views of themselves. Horses are often referred to as the “dolphins of the prairies” and can be used effectively in therapy as a tool to help build healthy relationships.

One of the main goals of this type of therapy is to promote learning healthy ways of developing and maintaining relationships. These newly learned relationship skills then are transferred over into healthy relationships with others.


What is play therapy?

Play therapy is an established and recognized method of helping children to express themselves through the use of play and toys. Children are encouraged to play in an environment that is safe and understanding. They are given access to a wide variety of toys to encourage the expression of emotional concerns.

Why play therapy for children?

Children cannot communicate with words as adults do. The method children use to release their emotions and sort out their experiences is through play. With a skill and patience by a qualified practitioner play therapy is a powerful healing tool. Through play children can recreate the experiences that are a part of their anger, fears, sadness, or frustrations. They can create therapeutic play at their own developmental level and recreate emotionally stressful events with the care and support of their therapist and in a safe environment.

How can play therapy help my child?

Through play therapy children can change the way they see and react to events that happen in their world. When children recreate their frustrations or disappointments and then are able to change the way they experience these events through play, they begin to enjoy more of their play and this translates to them enjoying, and feeling more comfortable with life events.

Benefits of play therapy?

* Restore a balance to a child’s mental health
* Build self-esteem
* Improve family life
* Improve relationships with other children
* Improve educational goals
* Reduce crime and vandalism
* Reduce drug and alcohol abuse


Clinical evidence suggest that Equine assisted psychotherapy can help: depression, low self-esteem, learning disorders, anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, conduct disorder, relationship problems, body image disorders, brain injury, memory impairment, sensory deficits, eating disorders, autism, Tourette’s syndrome and post traumatic stress syndrome along with many other disorders.

Equine specialized psychotherapy is an emerging field in which horses are used as a tool for emotional growth and learning. Equine assisted therapies are a collaborative effort between a therapist and the horse. This model can most easily be explained as an “hands on” approach to counseling. This means that the par. ticipants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses then they process feelings, behaviors, observations and feedback. Equine assisted psychotherapy has the added dynamic of utilizing horses each with different personalities, attitudes, and moods as unique as those of each individual involved. Because of this, equine assisted psychotherapy produces endless experiences and situations for discussion, analysis and learning. Equine facilitated therapies are effective in individual, family and group therapy.

Therapeutic riding programs offer unique and effective growth opportunities. ESP programs can help participant’s gain new meaning, hope and happiness in their lives.

Sir Winston Churchill stated it well when he said, “there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man” (Clara, 2001).

Proponents of ESP programs also believe that there is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man, woman and child. As hearts start to mend and learning becomes successful, people of all ages, genders, and economic backgrounds begin to rebuild their shattered lives. ESP at times can be fun, while building a sense of renewal, hope, and the connections that can heal the human spirit. Lives change for the better and good citizens emerge. The world can become a better place thanks to the healing and loving presence of a horse!

Horses mirror our own, sometimes-subconscious thoughts by reacting to body language, tone of voice and overall presence.

RS Surtees knew this truth. “Show me your horse and I will tell you what you are” (Clara, 2001). RS Surtees knew of the oneness that can be experienced between horse and rider when he said “there is no secret closer than what passes between a man and his horse (Clara, 2001).

What is the History of Equine Specialized Psychotherapy?

1. Introduced in Europe following 2 epidemics of poliomyelitis after World War II.
2. Horse therapies were documented and recognized physical and psychological benefits for hundreds of years.
3. It wasn’t until 1960’s that the medical profession recognized horses as a legitimate therapeutic tool.
4. Liz Hartel of Denmark won silver medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games despite having paralysis from Polio.
5. 1960’s First North American Riding centers (NARHA) began operatons.
6. 1970’s Cheff center opened and provided a catalyst for subsequent nation wide development of riding programs.
7. Past 5 years horse therapies research and document benefits to those with emotional, behavioral and social problems.
8. Research proves benefits of horse therapies for adults and children (NAHRA).
9. At present over 600 certified NAHRA centers exist.

What is Equine Specialized Psychotherapy?

Equine Specialized Psychotherapy are terms we use to describe our horse assisted approach to counseling. This “hands on” therapy allows a credentialed mental health professional to facilitate the therapeutic process with the help of a horse.

This “hands on” experiential approach to treatment allows one to receive both the benefits from the mental health professional and the proven therapeutic benefits associated in working with horses.

Benefits from this type of therapy include enhanced self-awareness and re-patterning of maladaptive behaviors, feelings and attitudes.

1. Equine Specialized Psychotherapy is a growing therapeutic method to help promote emotional growth and learning.
2. It is sometimes referred to as Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy or Equine Specialized Psychotherapy.
3. It is a collaborate effort between a therapist, client and horse (a horse professional may be used if the therapist does not have the experience with managing the horse).
4. It is a “hands on approach” and classified as experiential therapy.
5. It is well-documented and proven effective and is not experimental.
6. It is an alternative to “traditional talk” therapies.
7. It is based on the here and now.
8. It is effective with clients who are resistive to traditional therapies like some adolescents.