‘Horse Assisted Healing’
Therapy and Learning
Bunbury, South Western Australia
We are born in relationship,we are wounded in relationship and we can be healed in relationshipHarville Hendrix
What is Equine Assisted Learning?
Horse Assisted Healing
This is how it works
Equine assisted therapy and learning is a professional and innovative experiential approach to counselling psychotherapy and mental health that supports clients of all ages in addressing therapeutic goals (emotional, cognitive, behavioural, relationship and mental health conditions) with horses as assistants, support and co-facilitators in this process.
It can assist in personal development, professional development and developing leadership skills in teams and individuals. It is a fast growing modality across Australia as well as internationally. Children and adolescents can greatly benefit from these services including those eligible for funding under the National Disability Scheme (NDIS).
Equine assisted therapy is offered by registered Counsellors, Psychotherapists or registered mental health practitioners, such as Social Workers and Psychologists.
By working with horses we allow for another insight into all too familiar behaviour patterns that can feel as if we are stuck in a rut and nothing changes. Horses are prey animals and can model a different approach, that can help us look at ways to explore and accept ourselves with a greater awareness of living our life with choice.
Choice starts being visible.
(Bob a 50 year old full time worker)
Bob a 50 year old full time worker came to Horse assisted therapy for the first time. He expressed that he wanted to work on areas of anxiety. When Bob arrived at the session there were two horses that were available to be worked with.
Both horses came over and I invited Bob to take a halter and to put the halter on whichever horse he felt he would like to. Bob had some prior history with horses and said he felt that he would like to put the halter on himself. Both horses stayed around Bob but one particular horse walked over to Bob and appeared to be interested to spend time with him.
Bob walked towards the other horse that had not shown the same interest and it walked away from him. Bob started walking firmly towards the horse that was walking away from him. The horse continued to walk away. Bob stopped and stood looking at the horse. I asked Bob what was going on for him right now. Bob replied I feel that the horse doesn’t understand and if it would stop that I would be able to make it happy but it won’t give me the chance. I asked “how do you feel about that” Bob replied “I feel quite angry”. I inquired where the anger was, if he could locate a place in his body that he was holding it. Bob replied that he thought it was in his chest. I invited Bob to take some deep breaths and to undo he shoulders as he was standing in a manner that appeared hunched and tense. At this point the horse that wanted to spend time with Bob initially, wandered over and stood beside Bob. I Asked Bob what it was like for this horse to come and stand by him. Bob expressed that it felt good and he was grateful to the horse standing beside him and he felt accepted. I asked Bob what it was that had drawn him to walk after the other horse that had seemed less interested. Bob explained that he felt that the one that was less available would be more of a challenge and he would get more back from it if he could get it to like him. We talked a little more around this and Bob went on to discuss that he could see areas in his life that followed this same pattern, where he constantly felt he had to prove himself .
Bob expressed he had found the experience with the horses had opened a perspective that he had not expected. Bob explained that he had found the experience challenging but was feeling ready to spend some more time and see where it might go .
It has been my privilege to have been trusted with peoples’ life stories and I have never ceased to be amazed at the strength of the human spirit to seek connection and healing. I believe that we have everything we need already within us given a combination of compassion, relationship, time and the urge to try. The practice of combining counselling with horses as co facilitators has allowed me the opportunity to blend my love for these incredible creatures with an aspect of my life that is deeply meaningful to me.