Clients become active participants in seeking for solutions for themselves by investigating and experimenting with alternative approaches and choices; therefore, ultimately becoming accountable for their decisions through consequences, successes and mistakes. Our horses allow clients to present qualities such as confidence, fear, accountability, assertiveness, just by being present with them. These qualities the client experiences, which may or may not be familiar, play an important part in the growth and learning process.
Horses like humans, are social animals by nature and live in groups with dynamics which are much like human groups; such as families, peer groups, gangs, etc. with jobs similar human roles; such as a provider, care taker, friend, sibling, etc. and these groups are driven by behaviors, thoughts, beliefs and attitudes also similar to humans. With our horses and the dynamics they present we are able to engage in metaphorical learning through activities and discussions.
All equine-assisted sessions utilize a team approach through a collaboration of a licensed mental health professional and an equine professional. Our facilitators provide a physically and emotionally safe environment with the guidance and support needed to foster an experience which encourages spontaneous learning. The mental health professional is responsible for ensuring treatment goals, interventions and monitoring overall progress. The equine professional creates and plans equine activities while helping to ensure treatment goals are being met, as well as observing the horses and the environment noting symbols and themes that may be playing a significant part in creating someone’s story. In order to enhance the team’s skills and expertise, they attend yearly mental health and equine continuing education training and/or workshops. Stephanie and Stephanie have been facilitating equine-assisted psychotherapy, equine-assisted growth and learning and teaching equine-assisted professional development workshops, since 2010.