Equine Assisted Therapy

What is Equine Assisted Therapy?

Equine Assisted Therapy is a therapeutic approach that incorporates animals into the treatment process to improve emotional, cognitive, social, and physical well-being. This intervention is provided by trained professionals, often psychologists, counselors, or therapists, in various settings such as hospitals, schools, private counseling offices, and equine training facilities. Equine Assisted Therapy utilizes the unique bond between humans and animals to achieve therapeutic goals and enhance the quality of life for individuals of all ages.

Equines in Animal Assisted Therapy:

Equines, including horses and ponies, are increasingly being utilized in Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) programs due to their gentle nature, sensitivity to human emotions, and ability to provide unique sensory experiences. These animals have a remarkable capacity to mirror the emotions of the individuals they interact with, fostering a sense of trust and connection. Equine-assisted therapy often takes place in outdoor settings, such as farms or ranches, allowing individuals to connect with nature while engaging with these majestic animals. The serene and natural environments contribute to the therapeutic experience, promoting relaxation and reducing stress. The physical activities involved, such as grooming, leading, and riding the horses, enhance motor skills, coordination, and balance. Additionally, the presence of equines can help individuals develop emotional regulation, improve self-esteem, and build confidence. This form of therapy has shown benefits for a wide range of conditions, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and developmental disorders, making it a versatile and effective approach to mental and emotional healing

Ellie Mae

Ellie is a 14 yr old chestnut Saddlebred mare that absolutely adores people – she will “talk” and follow people around like a giant puppy dog. Ellie is a wonderful partner in our equine-assisted activities because of her expressive and welcoming personality, the way she makes people laugh, and even teaching others how to work through challenges that can come with a horse who sometimes tries “too hard”! In Ellie’s former life, she was looked down upon for her warmth and curiosity – so she has blossomed after she was rehabbed from traumatic handling and grown into the lovely, friendly mare she is today. 

Crush

Crush is a 9 year old dunskin Quarter Horse mare who is sensitive and complex. She is known as a ‘healer’ type and was very successful being used in group meditation classes previously. She connects to certain energies and emotions, helping to draw out from the person all the things they would like to let go of. Crush enjoys doing ground exercises that simulate life experiences, and how to process through and overcome them. She is helpful with showing us how to reconnect with our bodies and minds, how to look inward, and to increase our self-awareness as she responds to the things we do and say.

Silver

Silver is a 24 year old gray Tennessee Walker mare with a gentle, quiet soul. Silver has many years of life experience and has gone through many ups and downs in that time period. She is compassionate towards people, willing to sit with you through anything, and connects deeply. She brings a lot of peace and tranquility to equine-assisted activities, is never in a rush to go somewhere or get something done, and stays in the moment with her person.

Program includes:

  • Grounded: Interactions with horses from the ground such as grooming, in-hand exercises, liberty exercises, and ‘games’. This includes somatic methods and science-based interventions to communicate with the horse as well as instill new habits for the individual.
  • Ridden: Adaptive riding that meets the individual where they are, and nurtures taking on challenges, overcoming obstacles, facing change, and what resilience looks like. Unlike traditional horsemanship lessons, these sessions are more flexible with a different focus.
  • Equineassisted learning: is shown to improve confidence, help individuals work through trauma, develop relationships, and provide an outlet that boosts overall emotional, mental,
    and physical health.

Key Benefits of Equines in AAT:

  • Empowerment: Interacting with equines, particularly through activities like grooming, leading, or riding, can empower individuals by providing them with a sense of control and mastery over their environment.
  • Emotional Regulation: Equines are highly attuned to human emotions and can mirror the emotional state of individuals, providing valuable feedback and opportunities for emotional regulation and self-awareness.
  • Physical Exercise: Engaging in activities such as horseback riding or grooming requires physical effort and coordination, promoting strength, balance, and motor skills development.
  • Mindfulness: Working with equines encourages individuals to be present in the moment, fostering mindfulness and relaxation as they connect with the rhythmic movements of the horse or the peaceful surroundings of the farm.

Meet Katie

Katie offers trauma-informed equine services, which incorporates horses to foster relationship-building, encourage individual growth, and coaching through life experiences. She is passionate about sharing the healing abilities of horses with people and creating a deeper connection in people, with a specialty in neurodivergence and building resilience. With a variety of equine-assisted methods, Katie is able to create an individual program for each person that encompasses support, self-understanding, and adopting healthy habits for the future.

Location: Cave Creek, AZ

Transformative Growth Counseling, offers unique opportunities in which clients can benefit from Equine-assisted therapy and emotional support animals in our offices, schools, and in our remote site.

Additionally, we offer evaluation and documentation for emotional support, animals and service animals.

If you’re interested in how connecting with animals can help your counseling journey, or need an evaluation for an ESA, contact us for more information!