As with traditional talk therapy, equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) addresses a variety of mental, emotional, and behavioral needs. While therapeutic riding or equine-assisted therapy (physical, occupational, and speech therapy) positively impact human mental, behavioral, and emotional health, EAP services make different use of equine behavior to facilitate change. While some EAP sessions may incorporate vaulting and riding, most utilize ground-based interaction with horses (also referred to as ground work or unmounted work).
EAP sessions occur at the barn with a licensed mental health professional and a horse, and often also include an appropriately credentialed equine expert. Activities with horses are specifically designed to expand awareness, improve communication, ease distress, and build self-esteem. Horses offer a physical experience that moves the therapy process beyond self-reporting and allows for direct and real-time observation of behaviors, emotional responses, and patterns.
EAP is appropriate in the treatment of:
- Anxiety and depression, ranging from fear and worry to intense panic, phobias, social isolation, and suicidality
- PTSD/trauma, including for military Veterans and First Responders as well as victims of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Youth and adolescent issues, including ADD/ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, anger management, and other at-risk behaviors
- Family issues, such as communication, marital conflicts, child behavior, and parenting
- Grief and loss
Offerings include one-on-one therapy, family therapy, and group therapy. Current group programs focus on social skills, PTSD among Veterans and First Responders, and depression and suicide prevention.
Screening is required for all NCEFT programs and services. Contact NCEFT (email@example.com or 650-851-2271) for more information about equine-assisted mental health opportunities.