Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT)
What is EAT and what does a typical session look like?
No horse experience necessary!
Equine-assisted therapy is experiential in nature. NCC uses a team approach that involves a Mental Health Professional, an Equine Professional, the herd of horses, and the environment. This means that participants learn about themselves and others by participating in ground activities with the horses (this is a non-riding program) and then processing (or discussing) feelings, sensations, behaviors, and patterns.
Sessions may include structured activities or unstructured experiences with the horses depending on an individual client’s needs, designed to explore insight, emotional regulation, relationships, and present-moment mindfulness. We are trained in multiple modalities of equine therapy, including Equine Assisted Growth & Learning (EAGALA), Natural Lifemanship’s Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP), and EQUUSOMA.
Horses provide unique experiential opportunities as well as model important skills through their:
- size, strength, beauty;
- attunement to their environment;
- trauma responses that resemble our own;
- awareness and responsiveness to human feelings, intentions, sensations, and movement without judgment;
- relationships and behavior within the herd;
- nonverbal communication system;
- embodied mindfulness – they live ‘in their body’ in the present moment;
- congruence and authenticity – their internal experience matches their ‘external’ expression; and
How can EAT help me?
This experiential therapy goes beyond simply talking about challenges; instead, participants learn by doing, often reaching positive change more quickly than traditional therapy approaches.
Equine-assisted therapy can be used with a variety of populations and is suitable for all ages, including individuals, families, and groups. We often work with issues relating to trauma, addiction, anxiety, depression, grief and loss, relationship issues, poor self-esteem, and many other mental health conditions. Clients may walk away with more confidence, self-efficacy, improved communication, and interpersonal skills, healthier boundaries, relaxation and regulation skills, enhanced self-awareness, and reduced symptoms (Cumella & Simpson, 2007; Petite, 2018).