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“Heal Your Spirit Through The Soul Of A Horse”

415-457-3800


Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy

Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy is a form of experiential psychotherapy involving the collaborative effort of a client and a horse with a licensed psychotherapist/credentialed equine professional. EFP differs greatly from traditional psychotherapy due to the impact of the horse's mirroring and the immediate clear and honest feedback. EFP partners a horse and human in activities which promote relational issues of trust, bonding, communication and boundaries. Mutually respectful activities such as riding, grooming, handling and lunging engage the partners in a healing relationship leading the client towards personal insight and lasting change. Working together intimately with the horse, splintered families, disconnected couples and children are able to resolve conflict.

Treatment Philosophy

Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy is a form of experiential psychotherapy involving the collaborative effort of a client and a horse with a licensed psychotherapist/credentialed equine professional. EFP differs greatly from traditional psychotherapy due to the impact of the horse's mirroring and the immediate clear and honest feedback. EFP partners a horse and human in activities which promote relational issues of trust, bonding, communication and boundaries. Mutually respectful activities such as riding, grooming, handling and lunging engage the partners in a healing relationship leading the client towards personal insight and lasting change. Working together intimately with the horse, splintered families, disconnected couples and children are able to resolve conflict.

As a therapist, my job is to promote healing within the self and in relationship. And one of the horse's most important teachings is about achieving connection and insight. Experiencing one's own sense of harmony and learning that the horse recognizes and responds to one's true inner nature provides a healing experience and the opportunity for awareness and growth. EFP involves recognizing and developing healthy values as well as helping to change harmful behaviors through working with horses.

EFP is a preferred treatment modality for me because of my familiarity with the horse's inherent nature, inner strength and profound ability to connect. EFP involves a beneficial integration of the horse's innate healing ability with psychotherapeutic work. Both my personal and professional experiences have proven to me the healing and psychological benefits of EFP.

Why a horse?

Partnering with horses has changed lives since ancient history due to the horse's unique ability to reach the heart of the human soul and connect on the most authentic level. As both a licensed psychotherapist and Certified Equine Mental Health Professional (CEIP-MH), it is my job to facilitate the magic that is inherently present in the equine-human pairing. Horses serve as guides to our true selves with their uncanny intuition and their honesty. Horses care only about our state of clarity and the purity of our hearts.

Equine partners have a natural ability to aid in healing of the physical, mental and emotional. Their ability to read people and mirror their emotional experience is quite profound. Thus, they are direct and non-threatening teachers to humans, compelling us to take responsibility for our behaviors and inner experience. Horses are incapable of lying; therefore, their immediate feedback encourages the human to grow in authenticity.

A horse also has the ability to express empathy and to extract empathic responses from a human partner. People who have difficulty forming meaningful relationships may often begin that challenging work with an equine partner. With my help as a psychotherapist, the client begins to learn the cornerstones of a healthy relationship: trust, mutual respect of differences, accountability, self-control, cooperation and empathy.

Caesar

Riding bareback — one of the many powerful equine exercises.

 

Calysta

Learning to move with Caesar has significant therapeutic value.

 

 

Calysta

Star provides an insight!


How does EFP work?

There are endless accounts of the healing potential of interspecies friendship. Often, things that we only know intellectually, horses embody naturally. When we allow that bond to develop, horses have much to offer in emotional and psychological support. The working alliance between the horse, the client and myself can guide the client to higher levels of awareness. It is a magical moment when a horse chooses to join up with a person.

Both frustration and gratification arise when working with a being who does not speak your language. Children, in particular, but also adults have difficulty regulating their feelings. The importance of learning self-soothing techniques and frustration tolerance cannot be overstated. Horses are great teachers of anger management and patience who naturally reward positive behavior.

My clients build confidence as they work through fear towards reciprocal trust with their equine partners. Depression lifts when the horse responds to one's touch and direction. Horses enthusiastically guide trauma victims towards emotional well being and are also effective with people suffering from addiction, reconnecting humans to that lost part of themselves. With their soothing nature, horses provide relief from anxiety and obsessive behaviors.

A Treatment Session

The decision to involve horses in your therapy begins with our meeting in my San Rafael office where we do a thorough assessment of your situation, needs and desires. If EFP seems appropriate, I will develop a program that meets our mutually agreed upon objectives. You will then be paired with a horse and engage in numerous horse related activities when we begin our sessions at Willow Tree Stables. Most of our sessions will be non-riding, but riding (Western, English, bareback) may be part of your therapy. And I even take people out on trails. Treatment doesn't end with a horse session. Because EFP is experiential in nature, it is important that processing your experience with the horse is integrated into our work, so we will always discuss the session together.