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.