Animal assisted therapy using horses is a relatively new field of study and is emerging at a very rapid pace. With more programs turning to equine assisted psychotherapy each day, one may wonder what unique experiences horses offer that enhances your growth and healing in ways that traditional therapy alone does not. Here are a few examples of the benefits of equine-assisted psychotherapy.
- Respect for Self & Others
- Improved Communication and Social Skills
- Improved Personal Empowerment
- Improved Personal and Business Relationships
- Team Building
- Boundary Setting
- Honesty & Trust
- Manage ADD/ADHD Symptoms Effectively
- Planning and Organizing
- Empathy Towards Others
- Frustration Tolerance and Impulse Control
- Improved Cognitive Functioning
- Healing of Traumatic Past Experiences
- Self Control & Confidence
- Responsibility& Accountability
- Repair and Restructure Family Systems
- Problem Solving & Cooperation
- Increased Ability to Be Effective in Social Situations
- Overcoming Challenges in a Non Threatening Atmosphere
Horses provide an excellent way for clients to experience growth and healing in the open air. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy enables individuals to develop skills such as patience, self-confidence, trust, and compassion. Horses typically weigh anywhere between 800-2500 pounds. Learning to trust such large and often intimidating animals requires patience, aptitude, and confidence. It is important to distinguish between horseback riding and equine-assisted psychotherapy. The Legend program incorporates horses as a therapeutic tool rather than as a pleasure riding experiences. There are no mounted sessions in this approach.
Legend Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (LEAP) incorporates horses experientially for cognitive and emotional growth and learning. It’s a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional working with clients and horses to address treatment goals. Because of its intensity and effectiveness, it is usually a relatively short-term, or “brief” approach. Individual needs and preferences may vary however and time with the horses will be tailored to the individual goals and desires of the client.
LEAP is experiential in nature. This means that clients learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then processing and discussing feelings, behaviours, and patterns. This approach has been compared to the ropes courses used by therapists, treatment facilities, and human development courses around the world. LEAP has the added advantage of utilizing horses, which are dynamic, sentient and powerful living beings.
Not all programs or individuals who use horses practice Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Licensed (in the U.S.) and properly qualified (outside the U.S.) mental health professionals need to be involved. The focus of LEAP is not riding or horsemanship. The focus is the establishment of ground activities that involve the horses, which require the client or group to apply specific skills. Non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking, problem solving, leadership, work, taking responsibility, teamwork, relationship building, confidence, and attitude are several examples of the tools utilized and developed by LEAP.
EAP is a powerful and effective therapeutic approach that has an incredible impact on individuals, youth, families, and groups.
Legend Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (LEAP), a non-profit run by Fraley & Associates addresses the follow mental health and human development needs:
- Behavioural Issues
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Substance Abuse
- Eating Disorders
- Relationship Problems
- Communication needs
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