HoofBeats of Hope – Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)

In our HoofBeats of Hope program, a licensed mental health professional partners with horses in therapy sessions.

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is an experiential encounter form of therapy that involves working with horses to address issues resulting from the traumatic effects of abuse, neglect, combat, grief and loss, depression, anxiety, chronic illness, addiction, and other adverse life circumstances. People often develop negative coping mechanisms and unhealthy relationship patterns as a result of relational wounds. Similarly, horses are prey animals and spend a great deal of their time in their brainstem, or survival mode (fight, flight, or freeze), much as trauma victims do. Horses will respond honestly and directly to whatever behaviors and internal states a client presents to them in the session, allowing the client to experience immediate and helpful feedback about the communication and relational patterns they create with the people in their lives. Horses provide opportunities to practice assertive communication, set boundaries, make requests, learn emotional regulation skills, and build trust and confidence in a mutual partnership. All of the skills used to build relationships with the horse are transferable to human relationships