Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is an experiential form of therapy that involves working with horses to address issues resulting from the traumatic effects of abuse, neglect, combat, grief and loss, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, chronic illness and other adverse life circumstances. People often develop negative coping mechanisms and unhealthy relationship patterns as a result of relational wounds. Similarly, horses are prey animals and spend a great deal of their time in their brainstem, or survival mode (fight, flight or freeze), much as trauma victims do. Horses will respond honestly and directly to whatever behaviors and internal states a client presents to them in the round pen, allowing the client to experience immediate and helpful feedback about the communication and relational patterns they create with the people in their lives. Horses provide opportunities to practice assertive communication, set boundaries, make requests, learn emotional regulation skills, and build trust and confidence in a mutual partnership. All of the skills used to build relationship with the horse are transferable outside the round pen to human relationships.
Another exciting aspect of EAP is using mounted work to do Equine Assisted Trauma Processing, which is essentially EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) on horseback. The horse’s movement provides the bilateral stimulation for the brain and body to work through traumatic memories so that the toxic emotional residue can be neutralized and cease to control one’s neurological response system.
I am certified both as a psychotherapist and as a trainer for the Natural Lifemanship model of EAP (www.naturallifemanship.com) and offer this therapy at South Wind Equestrian Center in Leander (www.unbridledconnection.com).
Cost per hour long session is $175.00 which covers the site fee, use of the horses, as well as my fee and that of my horse professional. I do not bill insurance for EAP, but the same diagnostic and procedure codes are used for experiential as for traditional talk therapy, so you may submit the coded receipts you receive for your payment to your insurance company for potential reimbursement (subject to your plan’s deductible and other behavioral health coverage provisions).
Please contact my office if you have any questions about this type of therapy and whether it might be appropriate for you!