Equine Assisted Therapy – What Is It?

Let’s start by breaking down Equine Assisted Therapy word by word.

Equines are horses! Horses are non-judgemental and highly sensitive animals who have the ability to connect and support clients who engage with them. Horses assist in the process of meeting therapeutic goals.

There are multiple titles and different therapies that involve horses – Equine Assisted Therapy, Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy, Equine Facilitated Counseling and Equine Facilitated Mental Health all incorporate horses and a licensed mental health therapist. Hippotherapy also uses horses though it is focused on physical wellbeing through physical and occupational therapy. 

Here at Spot to Talk, we will use the term Equine Assisted Therapy as that is what the Eagala (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) model uses and the modality that our licensed therapists were trained in. 

Eagala uses a licensed mental health professional (such as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, LCSW, or a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, LCPC), an Equine Specialist, and a horse or horses to reach therapeutic goals that are predetermined by the client and mental health professional. 

Two people who are smiling and holding four horses.
Erica Gerber, Certified Equine Specialist & Claire Wick, Licensed Mental Health Specialist.

EAT can benefit an array of clients and diagnoses, it can be particularly appealing to those who have struggled to engage with traditional talk therapy, and issues such as addiction, domestic abuse, behavioral disorders, anxiety, depression, and trauma have been shown to benefit greatly from EAT interventions. Horses are so unique and provide real-time feedback for clients, and their clinician, due to their instinctive nature and ability to read body language and other nonverbal cues. 

In the Eagala model, horses are equal partners on the team and are able to interact with the client throughout each session, in addition, there is no riding involved so all of the therapeutic work is done from the ground. 

People who have extensive experience with horses to those who have never stepped foot in a pasture can benefit from EAT and our Eagala trained providers at Spot to Talk are eager to meet you!

Our barn is located in the Echo Lake area, just outside of Bigfork, and our hope is to provide EAT services year-round thanks to our indoor, insulated arena (coming this winter)! EAT sessions average 60 minutes in length and are confidential, just as a traditional talk therapy session would be. 

Does reaching your therapeutic goals through interactive and hands-on methods interest you? 

We would love to hear from you!

Spot to Talk question of the moment:

How do you engage with the world around you? What senses do you notice using?

Megan Goudie

Megan Goudie, LCSW

Megan has a passion for providing holistic, trauma-informed care, and believes there is a different approach that works for every person.

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