Equine Facilitated Mental Health and Psychotherapy
Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) is an experiential therapy. This unique approach to therapy incorporates horses, a mental health professional, an equine professional, and patients in a collaborative effort to facilitate emotional growth and learning. Because of its intensity and effectiveness, it is typically considered a short-term or “brief” approach (2-3 months). No riding is involved.
Who would benefit from EFP?
Why do we use horses?
What should patients expect?
EFMH s used to treat a variety of mental health and human development needs including behavioral issues, ADHD, PTSD, substance use disorders, eating disorders, grief and loss, anger issues, depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship problems, and communication needs.
Patients entering this program will begin the process with an in-office comprehensive psychiatric evaluation to assure a good therapeutic fit. The goal of this program is to combine psychiatric medications and equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) to improve symptoms and allow people to learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then processing (or discussing) feelings, behaviors, and patterns in their lives. Ultimately, the goal of these combined therapies is to empower and change peoples’ lives.
Naturally intimidating to many, horses are large and powerful. This creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. Working alongside a horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides wonderful insight when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life. Like humans, horses are social animals, with defined roles within their herds. They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes, and moods; an approach that works with one horse won’t necessarily work with another. Most importantly, horses mirror human body language. Many complain, “This horse is stubborn. That horse doesn’t like me,” etc. The lesson is that if they change themselves, the horses respond differently. Horses are honest, which makes them especially powerful messengers.
Most insurance companies will cover Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Our financial specialist is available to assist you in contacting your insurance company. Please note: There is an $80 program fee in addition to insurance coverage or self pay
Does research support Equine Assisted Psychotherapy?
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) has roots in solution focused therapy in terms of therapeutic orientation (EAGALA, 2001). Therapists who practice EAP ask clients to look into themselves to find solutions to a problem by looking for times when the problem that the client has or has not identified did not exist (Mann, 1998; McDaniel, 1998, 2000). The EAP is experiential in nature. That is, success in EAP is not experienced until an interaction between the horse and human takes place. Without social interaction where people are relating to each other, individuals are not given feedback on their behaviors and social skills. Without feedback, an individual may not see how they impact others and how behaviors can be changed or adapted.
Source: Russell-Martin, L.A. (2006). Equine facilitated couples therapy and Solution Focused couples therapy A comparative study. Doctorate of Philosophy, Northcentral University.
In summary, the present study showed that participants reported significant improvements in psychological functioning immediately following an EAP program and that these changes were stable at 6-month follow-up. Source: Klontz, B.T., Bivens, A., Leinart, D. & Klontz, T. (2007). The effectiveness of equine-assisted experiential therapy: Results of an open clinical trial. Society and Animals, 15 (2007), 257-267.