Equine-assisted counseling and psychotherapy (EACP) is a form of professional counseling facilitated by a licensed mental health professional in which clients work to achieve specific mental health treatment goals through interaction with equines.
There are many types of people who may benefit from equine-assisted counseling and psychotherapy! At STEPS, we serve clients as young as 4 years old. Many individuals seeking EACP are experiencing struggles related to depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, trauma, anger, grief, life adjustment, relationship problems, social skills, work/school problems, or other behavior issues.
Services are provided by licensed mental health professionals (or graduate student interns supervised by a licensed professional) who are trained in EACP. Qualified equine professionals co-facilitate with the counselors to maintain a safe environment for all involved. Equine professionals have extensive experience with equine behavior, herd management, and safe equine interaction practices. Some counselors are dually-qualified and can serve as both counselor and equine specialist.
All sessions take place on the ground - there is no riding involved. At STEPS, services take place in our tranquil pasture, where our herd is free to move around. Working with the equines in their natural environment, and without attempting to exert control over them, allows the equines to respond to you in a natural manner, as if you were part of the herd.
Equines notice many cues indicative of a person’s emotional state such as breathing rate, heart rate, body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and even scent. The feedback they provide will assist you in gaining insight into thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as they are happening in the moment. Your counselor will help you connect these experiences to challenges you may be facing. In addition, you will have the opportunity to practice different skills such as problem-solving, decision-making, calming skills, and communication skills that can be generalized and applied to increasing satisfaction in your relationships and daily life.