Equine assisted psychotherapy or EAP, is an experiential type of therapy that combines the use of horses and trained facilitators to promote positive change, growth and healing within the individual. EAP uses a team model consisting of a licensed therapist and equine specialist. The therapist’s role is to take notice of the client’s reactions and behaviors and provide emotional support. The equine specialist’s role is to bring to light the horse’s reactions to the client and to provide physical safety for both horse and human.

The therapy team sets up activities with the horse(s) that challenge the client in his/her current way of thinking, behaving and approaching problems. These activities serve as metaphors to “show rather than tell” the client about him/herself. Significant time is spent processing and discussing what was learned in the session as well as how to apply this knowledge to the client’s “real” life.

Equine assisted learning or EAL, is very similar to EAP in that many of the same equine activities are used and the session is facilitated by the therapy team. EAL tends to be more focused on developing a particular set of skills rather than doing in-depth psychotherapy. EAL is very effective for staff development, management team and corporate trainings and assertiveness/leadership skills.

The qualities that make EAP/EAL a unique approach to change is in the way it challenges individuals in a non-threatening manner, rapidly breaks down defense barriers, provides immediate cause-and-effect situations, captivates and holds attention and promotes change from dysfunctional patterns to successful ones.


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