An Equine Facilitated Mental Health and Learning Program
Equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) and equine-facilitated learning (EFL) are experiential forms of psychotherapy and learning that involve working with horses as a key member of the facilitation team. RDA (NSW) has developed a coach accreditation program to ensure standards of professionalism and safety in offering these services to local communities.
The social herd, prey nature and ensuing heightened sensitivity to reading energy and subtle changes in their environment, enable horses to co-facilitate teaching a wide range of life and coping skills. Due to their sensitivity, horses react and respond to people differently based upon the person’s current, and ever-changing, emotional state. The horse supplies biofeedback, providing the clients and the therapeutic team or coach with information regarding the clients’ mood, somatic experience and changes within those moods/experiences This provides an opportunity for learning and skill building.
Horses mostly use non-verbal communication and interacting with them helps people understand and learn how their own non-verbal communication might be impacting others. People can learn how to use their own body’s multiple intelligences,, rather than rely on the analytical, rational brain alone. Horses also demand that we are aware of our surroundings at all times. In order to stay safe around horses we must be observant, present, focused and attentive – all skills which many people struggle with. Horses can also be very instructive in setting boundaries: physical, psychological and emotional – something many people struggle with.
Clients may gain self-esteem and self-confidence while learning how to work with such a large and powerful creature to achieve objectives. They also learn how to care for horses, which can improve responsibility and work ethic in their daily lives. Programs are tailored to individuals or groups in consultation with mental health professionals or client representatives.