Equine Assisted Psychotherapy & Learning
Equine Enlightenment offers an alternative form of therapy to the usual room based ‘talking therapies’ which not everyone gets on with. Not only does it offer an alternative solution for clients who find it hard to open up or trust, it is also a powerful, safe way of helping clients with serious trauma, process this in an existential person-centred way.
Horses are the crux of the therapy session – just being the authentic creatures that they are, means that they suffer no fools. Commonly the horses will bring memories/ feelings into the client’s awareness in order for it to be processed far more quickly than in a traditional room based therapy, where clients may not ever get round to facing issues they’ve suppressed for many years.
This makes it a cost effective solution as the client tends to not need as many sessions as they would with room-based therapy.
What we do
Facilitated psychotherapy interventions with horses have been scientifically proven to improve the well being of individuals (e.g Bachi, 2012).
Common areas we cover are:
- Sexual/ violent/ emotional trauma
- Emotion dysregulation
- Anxiety & Depression
- Relationship problems
- Family conflict
- Boundary issues
- Self esteem
- Psychosomatic conditions
There are many other areas covered and we are more than happy to help. Sessions are available for children and adults, both individually and in groups. (E.g. husband and wife; family therapy). Short retreats are available for individuals seeking solace, respite or to recharge their batteries. The retreats are also ideal if an individual is struggling to cope with loss, or grieving after a relationship break-up. It is also beneficial for self-growth and enlightenment.
How does it work?
We share the same part of the brain as the horse and other mammals (the limbic system). Limbic neural pathways develop early, before verbal and logical capacities; they form templates for attachment and belonging throughout life. Trauma, family dysfunction and violence can set the brainstem, limbic brain and ANS on a permanent “false alarm”; imprinting the mind-body system with hyper- or hypo-arousal, impairing the development and functioning of the reasoning cortex (Szalavitz and Perry, 2010). Limbic patterns are especially impacted by interpersonal violence, when humans who should provide safety are abusers.
Moving a person from trauma to healing requires restructuring of emotional response. This must come in the form of new experiences that engage and soothe, or “regulate” this sensitive limbic region of the brain.
The book A General Theory of Love (Lewis, Amini and Lannon, 2000) explains the neurological re-wiring that can happen within a bonded relationship.
Limbic neuroplasicity – the remodeling of affective neural pathways and responses — requires three stages:
- Limbic resonance, defined as a shared empathy in which two mammals become attuned to each other’s inner states
- Limbic regulation, defined as reading each other’s emotional cues, adjusting to each other and soothing or regulate the physiology of the other
- Limbic revision, defined as adaptation to healthier template for future relationships.
(Lewis et al. 2000). Read full article here.
When I first heard about EAP I had no idea what it was and wasn’t sure what to expect. Philippa put me at ease straight away and was very welcoming! I have now completed the Equine Enlightenment full program of 9 equine facilitated psychotherapy sessions. I feel my anxiety levels are lower than before I started EAP and I am regaining more control of my life by using tools I have learnt through Philippa and the horses. The horses and Philippa are amazing to work with and her therapeutic experience and knowledge of horses is impeccable! In comparison to regular counselling I have had, I have found this to be far more effective, and something I have really enjoyed. I would highly recommend Philippa and the wonderful horses to others, and hope you all enjoy the experience as much as I have done! Linzi, November (2015)