What is Equine Assisted Psychotherapy/Learning?
EAP/L is a client and solution focused, experiential approach using horses to promote emotional growth and learning. Please note that no experience of horses is necessary, as there is no riding involved.
Horses are most effectively used in EAP/L as metaphors for life, attitudes and behaviours. EAP/L engages clients mentally, physically and emotionally all at the same time.
Because of this metaphorical process, problematic situations within the workplace or at home are made apparent by the way the horses respond to the person or to the team’s strategy regarding the completion of the activities.
The therapy team consists of an equine specialist (the horse expert/specialist), a human specialist (the psychologist) and the horse. Together they ensure that the client or team has a safe environment to gain maximum benefit from the experience.
Please note: Although most people reading this will be adults thinking in terms of an adult-orientated programme, EAP/L, is in fact, suitable for all ages.
· Horses are non-judgemental, honest friends.
· Horses challenge people in a non-threatening manner.
· Horses don’t see title or status, gender or race.
· Horses provide for metaphorical learning.
· Horses require people to engage in physical and mental participation with them.
· Horses mirror human body language, personalities and circumstances.
Benefits of Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy/Learning
EAP/L is a proven time-effective method of developing a range of practical life skills to apply both personally and in a team, whether at work or elsewhere. By creating ‘in the moment’ cause-and-effect environments EAP/L is successful in accomplishing set goals such as the following:
· Promoting both individual leadership and teamwork.
· Developing and enhancing problem-solving skills.
· Encouraging responsibility.
· Teaching empathy.
· Building trust.
· Increasing personal insight.
· Empowering and giving a sense of self-control.
· Improving communication and social skills.
· Developing healthy relationships.
· Breaking down defensive barriers.
· Teaching and developing boundary-setting skills.
WHO ARE WE?
The horse team consists of 6 horses of various breeds, personality, ages and stages of discipline.
Helen is a qualified psychologist (BA Ed, Hons Psychology and MA). She is a counsellor at the University of the Free State and registered with the Health Professionals Board of South Africa. Helen is currently working in private practice in Bethlehem and lecturing psychology part-time to first year students at the QwaQwa campus of the University of the Free State.
She has worked as a psychologist at the Department of Labour as well as the Department of Education (including at a school for children with physical and cerebral palsy disabilities), and as a student counsellor at the QwaQwa campus of the University of the Free State.
Helen’s love for dogs led her to an interest in using dogs for therapy but after seeing an advert and attending a workshop by EAPISA on Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, she was hooked and then proceeded to do the study programme to become a qualified EAPISA therapist.
Nicky has been involved with horses for more than 30 years, a passion (or, more accurately, an obsession) that started at a very young age.
Having always had a drive to experience horses on a different level from that of just riding them, she pursued Natural Horsemanship in the UK. She also visited Australia to further her knowledge.
An interest in psychology led Nicky to investigate how she could use horses to help people, emotionally and came across EAGALA.
Since then she has completed her Level 1 with EAGALA and will complete Level 2 early in 2015.
From a corporate environment as a PA and in Marketing she was fortunate and blessed to be given the opportunity to start her own therapy centre.
Her intention is to enable corporate groups to experience the power that horses have in teambuilding exercises and to offer individuals the opportunity to encounter spiritual healing through equine-assisted therapy.