This form of equine-assisted counseling is designed for children ages 4-10.
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.
Equine-Partnered Play Therapy is an approach to counseling for young children that utilizes play (the natural language for children) to express themselves as well as process feelings and emotions. Equines are partnered into each session creating a sense of calm and well-being which provides emotional security for the child. In doing so clients can establish a therapeutic relationship with the equine and counselor where they can feel full acceptance and understanding. Through these interactions and play, children can develop social skills, impulse control, empathy, and self-awareness.
Play Therapy sessions take place in our tranquil pasture in an enclosed space designated as our "play area". The play area includes a safe space for children to express themselves with a variety of toys and developmental instruments. As partners in play, our two miniature ponies will be free to move about the space and interact with them as they desire. This allows for both equine and child to develop a relationship mutually beneficial to one another.
Many children have an innate interest in and desire to interact with animals. Children are able to facilitate interactions with animals in ways that they are unable to do with toys or adults. Through these interactions equines enable children to receive nurturing, cope with stress, express feelings, and facilitate qualities such as impulse control, self-regulation, or positive adjustment.