Anyone who has shared their love with a pet knows the emotional and physical benefits of that special relationship. But can the time we spend with an animal be considered meaningful therapy? Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is an experiential alternative to traditional talk therapy that has been effectively used to treat behavioral issues, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, and relationship problems. EAP is helpful with skill development, improving communication and socialization.
EAP has the same goals as traditional psychotherapy but uses the connection with a horse as the “co-therapist” to facilitate progress towards treatment goals. EAP is effective due to the unique ability of horses to nurture, provide instant feedback, and increase self-esteem and strength in the people who interact with them.
EAP typically includes a wide variety of equine activities such as handling, grooming, lunging, or riding. In the form that most resembles traditional psychotherapy, EAP is facilitated by a licensed, credentialed mental health professional that is also credentialed as an equine professional. In some instances, a licensed mental health professional will work together with a credentialed equine professional.