Equine Assisted Therapy

February 14, 2022

Equine Assisted Therapy

Spending time with horses as a counselling intervention

There are many counselling interventions and individual counsellors blend their training and experience with ways of working that they know to be helpful to their clients. Equine Assisted Therapy is an intervention where the counsellor guides their client to understand themselves through interactions with a horse.

Helen Bowler is a Christchurch-based equine assisted therapist. Horses have always been a part of Helen’s way of life, so offering equine assisted therapy to interested clients as part of her practice was a natural step.

Initially trained in EAGALA principles, Helen now takes her own approach to integrating Equine Assisted Therapy with her counselling services.Initial sessions are between Helen and the client, while Helen assesses whether Equine Assisted Therapy would be beneficial for the individual. If appropriate, the client is introduced to the world of horses, before being brought into contact with a horse.

So why horses? As pasture-dwelling herbivores, horses are naturally anxious due to their need to be constantly aware of potential predators.This natural “fight, flight or freeze” instinct paired with a highly developed emotional capacity means horses are highly aware of the here-and-now.

In order to manage these traits, horses form herds. The herd social structure helps maintain the safety, security and harmony of the group.Each horse has a clear role, which in turn is key for their survival. Eating, sleeping, caring for young, and life in general relies on every member of the herd performing their role. Communication is key to the success of the herd, and horses express themselves through physical movements and body language.

There are many benefits to Equine Assisted Therapy. As a medium-term counselling intervention, Equine Assisted Therapy allows clients to experience first-hand the way horses communicate their emotions. This can assist people in noticing and expressing their own difficult emotions, and how this impacts their relationships. Furthermore, understanding the emotional and herd-based nature of a horse can assist clients to recognise and understand their emotional world, manage anxiety and enhance coping.

Helen offers Equine Assisted Therapy in face-to-face sessions so that herclients can experience the way horses express themselves.

Please contact Helen at HelenB@kindredcentre.nz for further information.

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