Equine ServicesHope Counseling: Deb Lehmann, LCPC
Our Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy/Learning facility is in Winfield, Illinois at Mane Trail Stables. My partner, Margaret, and I utilize horses (and sometimes a miniature donkey) in psychotherapy treatment as well as in groups to build social skills, communication skills, relationship skills and life skills.
What is Equine-Assisted Therapy/Learning?
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) utilizes at least one horse, a therapist and equine specialist in a team approach to promote emotional and/or mental health growth and change. This is a type of Experiential Learning or Psychotherapy that uses experiences or tasks to help us learn how we approach and perceive the world/relationships in order to promote change in our lives. Horses are powerful beings that will reflect (some experts say “mirror”) how a group or individual is affecting them in that moment.
Key Points of EAP/EAL:
- We utilize mostly ground exercises that develop a relationship with the horse(s).
- Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is defined as a psychotherapy session in which the clients, therapist and horse work towards client identified treatment goals.
- Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) is defined as a group of people who have common learning or educational goals.
- There is a separate fee for use of the horse(s) and a horse expert for each EAP or EAL session.
- Horses are, at their core, relational beings. They relate to humans in a unique way that causes the client to experience that unique relationship to promote healing and better relationship skills.
- Horses are extremely sensitive to nonverbal communication and will respond to the client in that moment without filtering their experience with that person or group.
- Horse provide opportunities through Experiential Therapy (the use of an experience/task to accomplish a goal) to address social skills, communication skills and other needs in order to build healthy and meaningful relationships.
- Horses will not be bullied. They do what they want to do when they want to do it. They require relationship and clear communication, thus allowing the client(s) to identify any relational/communication deficits and strengths.
- Horse themselves are completely authentic and genuine. They allow people to be their complete, authentic selves in order to address issues in his/her lives that compete with healthy relationships and life skills.