Equine Assisted Therapy Services
Jordan Stones Counseling offers a unique counseling experience referred to as Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP). EAP is based on experiential work which uses horses in the counseling session to increase clients’ awareness of their thoughts, words, and actions. EAP can be a life-giving form of therapy for those dealing with various struggles. Equine Assisted Counseling helps the individual address areas of concern in a non-threatening approach where they are able to identify problematic thoughts or behaviors. We currently offer sessions to children (5 & older), adolescents, and women. Sessions typically last 50-60 minutes and are held at least once a week. We use the Natural Lifemanship TF-EAP model, ultilizing two different approaches to specifically address the needs of the client which involve mounted and unmounted work.
Relationship Logic is the foundation of our therapeutic work. It consists primarily of groundwork in which each client builds a relationship with a horse that is truly based on a partnership which does not include intimidation, appeasement, or submission. In Relationship Logic, clients choose a horse with whom to build a relationship. Every principle that applies to building a relationship with a horse must transfer to healthy human relationships. The horse is not a metaphor for other relationships – it is a real relationship in which patterns play out. Because the client and the horse are engaged in building a real (as opposed to metaphorical) relationship, real relationship patterns surface and are transformed during the sessions.
An individual’s reaction to life experiences determines how they create their relationships. Trauma sets in motion ways of coping and interacting in relationships that frequently become a pattern. Even after trauma has been processed cognitively, relationship patterns such as coping mechanisms are often still in place. These coping mechanisms, while once necessary for survival, become detrimental in situations where survival is no longer the overriding concern. Clients naturally repeat their learned relationship patterns when building a relationship with a horse. Horses respond honestly to our behaviors and internal states, which makes it easier for clients to recognize the problems they create in building a relationship with their horse. They are then able to identify how they create those same problems in relationship with themselves and others, taking appropriate responsibility for the relationships in their lives. Relationship Logic facilitates a process whereby clients are able to address and move through past or present damaging life circumstances, understand how those circumstances affect their current interactions, and make the personal changes necessary for healthy, fulfilling relationships in the present and future.
Horseback riding is incorporated into the therapy process in order to address very specific therapeutic goals related to the client’s ability to regulate his or her responses to stress and their accompanying emotional states. Studies show that brain functionality in people who have experienced trauma is often compromised due to disorganization and/or lack of neurological connections in the brain. Trauma victims often struggle with emotion and impulse control, which results in the inability to appropriately handle even minimal stress. Trauma Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP) utilizes the rhythmic, patterned, repetitive, bilateral movement inherent in riding a horse to increase and reorganize the connections in the brain, thereby increasing the brain’s ability for emotion and impulse control. The horse is able to provide the rhythm required to effectively heal the traumatized brain until the client is able to independently provide that rhythm. In effect, clients passively learn to self-regulate through the use of the rhythmic, patterned, repetitive movement of the horse.Rhythmic Riding offers the ideal conditions to establish and strengthen the cross-brain neuronal connections necessary for self-regulation.
Clients are also taught specific skills to enable them to self-regulate in stressful or emotional situations. However, unlike office-baed counseling sessions in which the therapist discusses with the client how to use the learned skills in more stressful situations, riding provides a medium through which clients can learn and practice these skills. During Rhythmic Riding, horses provide a mildly stressful, yet safe and predictable, environment in which to practice these skills. Before the horse will appropriately control her/himself, the client must first be in control of his/her own thoughts, emotions, and actions. Riding, therefore, affords clients the opportunity to practice skills that will help them control the chaos inside of them when they can't control the chaos around them. Many clients are unable to do deeper, insight-oriented therapeutic work until they are able to bring their level of arousal to a place that allows them to gain and retain insight and benefit from higher-level learning. This level of regulation is most profoundly experienced and learned on the back of a horse.