Equine Facilitated Interactions (including Equine Facilitated Learning and Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy – see below) involve working alongside horses to create personal learning or personal insight, or develop individual wellbeing, or structure a genuinely therapeutic intervention.
There is no one standard approach to this work. These interactions, can simply be observing the horses from a distance, quietly interacting with them within their natural environment, or working alongside them in a structured way in an arena or sand-school.
Equine Facilitated Interactions are based upon effective social intelligence and conscious somatic presence. By their nature horses are situationally and socially present, to work effectively with them, we need to be the same, and so we must learn to engage these qualities in ourselves.
As a herd-based, flight animal horses are sensitive to their environment and consciously aware of the energy, emotions and intentions of those around it. They are adept readers of non-verbal communications to which their reactions and responses are honest and unconditional. This authentic social intuition is engaged in our interactions. The good news for us is that horses do not role play. They do not have agendas, nor do they intentionally mislead. As a result, they respond to us as we are, if we change, they will change with us.
This honesty facilitates practical exercises in co-regulation, the means by which social beings support and calibrate each other’s energetic state and emotions. There is an exchange of real-time feedback, whereby we learn that in changing how we are, we can change not only change our own experience but that of others around us.
Equine Facilitated Interactions are experiential by nature. In these interactions we bring our whole selves into the process. It is not just about what we say, or how we feel in the moment, it is the holistic “how we are”.
The experiential benefit is not just about the insight and awareness that we gain into ourselves, but that we get to work with that and to explore change or difference. There is no change without action, and the experiential process creates a safe space to engage with that action. Well facilitated Equine Facilitated Interactions provide safe and non-judgemental environment for this exploration.
The process provides an authentic and unbiased 360° appraisal around how we are. In their subtle behaviours alongside us the horses provide an objective shifting commentary of our mindset, demeanour and behaviour.
Athena Herd Foundation provides a full range of interactions, from the straight-forward equine experience to, personal development and formal therapeutic interventions. We are expert in developing skills-based learning, skills based on mindfulness and emotional intelligence. Skills that support individual wellbeing as well as resilience and robust mental health.
Athena Herd Foundation has an extensive network of qualified practitioners which enables us to offer services that can align to a variety of client or service user needs. This includes practitioners providing Counselling, Occupational Therapy and Psychotherapy services
In addition, the growing national and international team at the Athena Herd Foundation brings diverse professional expertise from differing backgrounds, who come together in their passion for the health and well-being of the humans and horses.
The Athena Herd Foundation is an Organisational Member of ACCPH (Accredited Counsellors, Coaches, Psychotherapists and Hypnotherapists) and bacp. Our Equine Facilitated Practitioner courses are accredited meaning our training and courses are of the highest standard. Our courses closely follow the level benchmarks set by Ofqual, the Open & Distance Learning Quality Council or similar bodies.
We offer a Level 2 Certificate in Equine Facilitated Interactions and Level 4 and Level 5 Equine Facilitated Practitioner Diplomas and a number of accredited CPD (CEU in the USA) opportunities (please visit our events page).
We also offer a post-graduate Level 7 module “The Application of Equine Groundwork in Clinical Practice” which has been designed in conjunction with Ulster University’s School of Health Sciences.
Equine Facilitated Interactions might otherwise be known as, for example, Equine Assisted Learning, Equine Assisted Services, Equine Facilitated Learning, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy, also activities that cover Occupational Therapy, Ground-work, Counselling, Therapy, Coaching, Teaching or Hippotherapy.