This really depends on what approach you wish to take and what is your current profession or practice.
If you are not already qualified and/or practicing then you will need to find a trainer that will take you on and provide a full foundation in therapeutic practices. These organisations will have their own defined prerequisites for beginning study. Prerequisites vary from trainer to trainer.
If you are already a qualified and practicing then you can find a trainer that will provide you with a professional qualification that extends your current practice. At Athena Herd our Certificate and Diploma have been specifically designed to embellish and build on existing qualifications.
Most carriers of professional therapy – or alternative health or holistic – practices recognise the profession and subject to appropriate training will provide professional cover.
The Equine Assisted and Facilitated Practitioners Network (EAFPN) hold details of most the major insurance carriers . Please visit their website and they will be very happy to assist (or email [email protected]).
Horses generally respond to human emotions authentically, honestly and without judgement.
They are highly social animals and so highly attuned to the emotional and energetic state of others. Not just horses.
Humans and Horses share core mammalian emotional behaviours and motivations. Their social intelligence has a natural awareness.
To explain the horses’ reactions simply – they move towards or away from. Emotions in all mammals are motivators, those motivations offer rewards or threats. We are drawn to the rewards and or move away from threats. The horses’ behaviours are essentially scales of approach or retreat, do they want more of something, or to move away from it. It is the role of the facilitator to work with these actions on the part of the horse(s).
Some of the best work on this subject common emotional behaviours was carried out by Jaak Panskeep in his book Affective Neuroscience. Watch his Ted x talk.
Horses are prey animals and as such have a significantly heightened awareness to environmental factors and energy levels exhibited by other animals around them, not just other horses. Survival for a horse is principally about instinctive reaction, a comparable state of mind to those who have operated in a war zone.
Horses reactions are a silent, honest and dispassionate response the emotions of those around them. Horses respond negatively to negative emotions. They respond positively to positive emotions. They do not have agendas, nor intentionally mislead. Through facilitated interaction with horses metaphoric and impartial input can be applied as a complement to conventional therapy, and creates a non-threatening environment for revealing and accepting the authentic self.
This unbiased and immediate feedback can quickly draw out the heart of issues, Dr. Laurie Sullivan-Sakeada, a US Clinical Psychologist Practising in this field explains, “The horses are therapeutic and interactive tools that speed up the therapy process substantially …. one session of EAP in the barn is equal to five sessions “on the couch.”
One leading US horse trainer working with the Horses for Heroes therapy programme succinctly describes the horse as “1200 lbs of lie detector”. The subtle and wide ranging expressions that are portrayed through the horse’s body language provides immediate direct feedback and instruction to Veteran delegates, handlers and therapists alike.
Equine Therapy can serve to support any therapeutic process which places the individuals experience at the heart of their healing. There are not specific “best cases”, for example though, in the treatment of traumas it can be highly effective, or for conditions such as autism and aspergers.
The horses create the space in which the therapeutic exchange can occur. The horses are not the “healers” per se, but along with the appropriate professional, facilitate a non-judgemental space in which problems and challenges can be explored.
The practice began in the USA and is now a recognized field that complements and accelerates traditional mental health counselling. Because of its intensity and effectiveness, EAP can be a strong and impactful addition to traditional talk-based therapy.
Traditionally in the UK are more aware of therapeutic riding schemes such as RDA. However the real benefits of EAP work are increasingly recognised with a number of dedicated trainers and providers now in place.
EAP is incredibly effective for quickly identifying sources of trauma which can then be used to design appropriate treatment plans. It can be used as a powerful tool for treatment of attention deficit disorder, substance abuse issues, eating disorders, expression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and low self-esteem.
Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL) is the process of learning about oneself and how one is in the moment – developing self-awareness. Once aware we can explore what happens when we change – nurturing the skill of self-regulation.
It is an experiential process which enables us to model different behaviours and skills.
Alongside horses there is an awareness of “how others see us” because they reflect how we show up. Without judgement they honestly and authentically provide insight into how others’ experience us. In this way they show us what the Johari Window calls our unseen self. The EFL process aligns to the classic model of Emotional Intelligence (EI). By understanding how we are and regulating ourselves we develop the foundation of empathic awareness, and the building of effective relationships.