The Healing Presence of Horses in Therapy
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Louise Epona Pell - Equine Assisted Counselling
6th February, 20130 Comments
Horses offer us an opportunity to live in the present with them and to experience their non-judgmental acceptance of us as we enter into their herd. Their world is one of peace where boundaries and hierachy are established for survival allowing each horse their place in the herd where they are respected.
Equine Assisted Therapy offers experiential interaction with the horses in their natural setting, releasing clients into who they are truly meant to be. Being a prey animal, for their very survival the horse needs to read the body language of the herd moment by moment in order to know when to move, eat, drink, rest and play.
Just observing the herd can help clients with relationship issues. Most of us work within hierachies and structures, whether at work, school or home, and finding and accepting one's place and keeping proper boundaries can be truly enlightening for us.
Again, for survival, horses also have the capacity to read intent (or inner body language if you prefer) This means the horse will mirror the person's inner state, whether they are stressed, sad, angry etc. The horse may therefore offer great empathy to the person experiencing those hidden issues and this allows healing to be released; they also offer the genuine acceptance of the person just as they are without judgement. The flip side of this is that horses also see straight through masks and falsity; after all, their very life depends on it. Hidden anger and anxiety may cause the horse to flee, feeling this person is not genuine and therefore not safe to be with should danger arise.
Equine Assisted Therapy offers an encounter with horses "in the moment". Being with horses and a therapist allows clients new self awareness and healing in a relational natural way. Being outdoors in nature's glories is a powerful stepping stone to the healing process and horses give so much of themselves to help us. It is very humbling being around horses in this way, to receive the gifts these beautiful, powerful gracious animals offer us in complete acceptance.
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