Leading With Horses
About Our Services
Leading With Horses is a platform for mental health professionals to incorporate Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning (EAPL) into their existing treatment program as an alternative to conventional talk therapy. A collaboration of mental health professional and equine specialist offers a more holistic and comprehensive approach in providing solutions and treatment.
EAPL is an evidence based therapy which has proven its effectiveness throughout a wide range of mental disorders and emotional trauma. Our program serves any person who is being treated by a licensed mental health professional, with emphasis on youth development and family counseling. SCR offers the only EAPL program in Washington that is free to the community and funded by public donation, grants and program service fees from our mental health partners. We also offer EAPL workshops and certification programs through H.E.A.L for mental health professionals to best utilize horses in their therapy sessions.
With a special collection of exceptionally trained, retired sport-horses, we are building resilience in families and addressing the negative health and behavioral consequences of trauma and toxic stress. Our program delivers an environment that fosters emotional growth and allows therapists / doctors an effective tool to counsel those who are moving forward from trauma.
Our program is available to anyone who is currently being treated by a therapist, licensed counselor, or enrolled in a program with one of our partners. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning (EAPL) is a collaboration between a mental health professional and an equine professional to include adjunct EAPL therapy to existing treatment programs. In most cases the therapist works privately with their client and the horse(s). Our HIPPA certified equine specialists are only there as much or little as needed to ensure privacy. Therapists address a multitude of issues effecting both adults and youth such as depression, PTSD, anti-bullying, domestic violence, and suicide prevention, with a focus on “family counseling” to achieve a more holistic and comprehensive approach in providing solutions and treatment.
How It Works
By integrating the horse-to-human connection, we offer experiential learning where the meaning and the process is solely based on the individual’s personal experience, rather than being “taught” through someone else’s experience. Often professionals find their clients to be more receptive of accepting information from the horses through this non-verbal, alternative to talk therapy. And, as well, more open to expressing themselves, than if directly speaking about their issues. By allowing them to process information in a different way, it allows professionals to observe their client’s triggers and respond to them in real-time counseling. The professional and client can work freely in a safe environment to elicit, decipher, prove and encourage their clients healing and growth.
This team approach of licensed mental health professional and equine expert offers a safe, controlled environment for the client. Sessions are structured and facilitated to specifically address the reasons clients come to therapy, and designed to best create metaphors to “real life”. Clients have shown us that the they truly do have the answers they seek, when given the opportunity to discover them.
The unique nature of the horse is what makes the therapy so successful. Horses reflect the behavior and emotional state of the people around them and provide us with immediate and effective feedback. The most important element of therapy is trust. There is an unspoken truth that horses don’t lie or deceive. Not because they are altruistic, but because they are incapable of deceit as an animal who cannot concoct an alternate tale of reality. As the horse builds trust, they connect deeper with the person. This quite often provides the client with a feeling of comfort and the opportunity to break down barriers and address the challenges they have been facing. Horses have a majestic and powerful presence. For people who lack confidence, being put in a position of leadership over a 1000lb animal and successfully managing that animal can build self-esteem and self-confidence. Or even those who have false overconfidence, the horse teaches humility through example as these powerful creatures live peacefully and cooperatively with us.
The three basic aspects of learning from equine therapy;
Horses share much of the same personality traits and emotions as humans; they are dynamic, playful, curious, emotionally sensitive – but more consistently, honest, and unbiased. Activities with the horses challenge participants to work together to find solutions through positive communication and collaboration. It is an experience that becomes a metaphor for real-life situations. The unpredictability of these activities and their outcomes require participants to apply and develop important relationship and life skills. The most important aspect of these activities is not whether the goal is achieved but rather identifying patterns of behavior and emotional response that relates to the modern-day experience.
The strength of experiential learning is that the meaning and the process is solely based on the individual’s personal experience, rather than being “taught” through someone else’s experience. As prey animals, horses have evolved exquisitely sensitive perceptual abilities that far exceed that of humans. As herd animals, they have developed a refined ability to read body language and emotional incongruence. Horses are masters of presence. The horses are powerful teachers of the integrity of will, intent, energy, and alignment. Quite simply, horses change the way we see ourselves.
People typically learn best by doing. Life lessons take deeper root when individuals understand them in their minds and experience them in their bodies. Horses respond with unique insight into exactly who we are in the moment. They are profoundly gifted reflectors of our true selves because their very survival depends on reading us correctly. Subtle changes in our actions or behaviors can provoke responses that give us immediate feedback about ourselves – they are an excellent source of organic biofeedback able to mirror our emotions and provide non-judgmental feedback. Through interaction with the horse, even running a hand over a neck, or putting fingers out to touch a muzzle, can do much to open a door to ideas or thoughts not before disclosed. In a world of technology, voice, the spoken kind has seemed to have lost its importance. What horses offer to the community is an exploration of the self and self-discovery. A model of the show and not tell.
Leading with Horses has created a safe place for coaches, therapists, researchers, and individuals to explore their behaviors. We believe horses are uniquely adapted to coach humans. SCR offers a curriculum and structure that provides opportunities to teach critical life and communication skills.
Benefits of EAP
Honest, non-judgmental feedback gains immediate trust – clients are willing to be more emotionally vulnerable.
Stimulus/Response: immediate responses by the horse demonstrates patterns of behavior and belief systems by both equine and handler
Non-verbal interaction tests ideas of connection and attachment. Horses communicate mostly with body language and limited vocal communication. Thus, clients are able to observe and practice how non-verbal communication might be impacting or influencing others in their lives.
Awareness and Focus. Handling a large and powerful animal or dealing with the unknown creates a need for boundaries, awareness, and horsemanship/handling requires that we are observant, focused, and attentive.
Confidence: Horses are a majestic and powerful presence. For those who lack confidence, successfully managing and training a horse can build self-esteem and self-confidence. Or even those who have false overconfidence, the horse teaches humility through example as these powerful creatures live peacefully and cooperatively with us.
PO Box 19602 Spokane, Washington 99219
A 501c3 Corporation