Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is an interactive process combining the use of an EAP trained horse, a trained mental health professional and an appropriately credentialed equine professional to address psychotherapy goals set forth by the mental health professional and the client.

Because of the horse’s prey nature and intense sensitivity to subtle changes in their environment, they are the perfect partners for professionals who teach a wide range of life and coping skills.

The concept that horses might be helpful or healing to those struggling with mental health issues is based on the idea that horses are extremely sensitive to changes in a person. Because of this, horses react and respond to people differently based upon the person’s emotional state.


The horse acts as a large biofeedback machine, providing the client and therapist with information regarding the client’s mood and changes within those moods. If a client arrives anxious, the horse will act and respond one way. If the client is able to reduce his or her anxiety, the horse’s behaviors will also change, providing a plethora of information and skill building opportunities for both the client and therapist.

We collaborate with Rachelle Dunn, LPC, LCMHC, BC-TMH at Real-Time Therapy. Rachelle brings years of clinical experience to our team in order to support our clients. You can learn more about Real-Time Therapy by clicking here.

2022 Fall EQUI-KIDS Champions
A social and emotional skill building group for adolescents ages 12 to 16

In this group, youth will learn and practice tools for effectively handling challenging situations in a positive manner as they develop emotional and social skills through equine-assisted psychotherapy. Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) is an experiential form of therapy which we provide in accordance with the Eagala model. This model utilizes a team approach, consisting of a licensed therapist, an equine specialist and horse(s). The Eagala model is based on the belief that individuals have the ability to find the best solutions for themselves when given the opportunity to discover them. The therapy work is all ground-based, with no riding involved and no previous experience with horses required. Sessions for this group will cover topics such as problem-solving skills, creating healthy habits, accepting personal responsibility, resolving conflict, communicating feelings, respecting others and overcoming fear of failure or rejection.

Our Fall EAP group will run for 4-weeks during the month of November from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. The group size will be up to 8 participants. This service will be provided by credentialed providers with years of equine and mental health experience.

Group Dates:

November 7, 2022

November 14, 2022

November 21, 2022

November 28, 2022

Registration Fees: $400 per participant

Spots will fill up quickly so be sure to get your application turned in as soon as possible.

The registration deadline is October 24, 2022.



See session dates for the current year.

How to Apply

The process to become an EQUI-KIDS participant involves many steps. It is important to us that all who participate have the potential to benefit from our services, so we want to be sure each individual is a good fit. Please contact Kathy Chitwood, Program Director if you are interested in individual equine therapy services (kathy.chitwood@equikids.org / 757-721-7350).

For more information about our critical program services, contact our Program Director at 757.721.7350 or via email.

Sponsor a Horse

Thank you for your generous contribution.

    (The sponsor name listed above will be used for the stall plaque and custom halter plate)

    (Please note that horse sponsorship requests will be honored in the order donations are received and are subject to change due to the retirement of a horse or other circumstances, which we will do our best to communicate to you in real time)

    CheckCredit Card (one-time payment of $5,000)Credit Card (monthly installments of $416.67)


    If you have opted to pay by check, please mail it to:

    EQUI-KIDS Horse Sponsorship Program
    Attention: Victoria Arboneaux

    2626 Heritage Park Drive

    Virginia Beach, VA 23456

    We will be in touch soon to confirm your payment method and other sponsorship details.