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What is Equine Therapy?

Animals can offer an extraordinary amount of emotional support. Beyond the pet-owner relationship that many of us have lovingly experienced, animals are sometimes used in therapeutic settings to help clients navigate challenging emotional experiences.

Equine-assisted psychotherapy incorporates horses into the therapeutic process. People engage in activities such as grooming, feeding, and leading a horse while being supervised by a mental health professional. Goals of this form of therapy including helping people develop skills such as emotional regulation, self-confidence, and responsibility.

With mature horses weighing anywhere in the range of 900 to 2,000 pounds or more, it might feel a bit intimidating to have such a large, majestic creature participating in your therapy sessions. However, equine-assisted therapy is growing in popularity due to its experiential approach and some burgeoning evidence of its effectiveness.

There are a variety of terms used to describe or reference equine-assisted psychotherapy, including:

  • Equine-assisted mental health

  • Equine-assisted counseling

  • Equine-facilitated psychotherapy

  • Equine-assisted therapy

The last term, equine-assisted therapy, can also often refer to other forms of therapy where horses are used, such as with occupational therapy.

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