Equine-Assisted Learning: Equine-assisted learning (EAL) is a type of equine-assisted activity that broadly refers to non-therapy, skills-based services that focus on teaching life skills, social skills, communication skills, relationship skills, or leadership skills while facilitating personal growth and increased self-awareness through non-mounted interactions with horses. Services are EAL providers may teach horsemanship skills, Providers practice using a variety of approaches or theoretical beliefs.
Learning: The process of gaining knowledge or skills, synthesizing information, or altering behaviors. Learning is not limited to academic (or educational) settings and can occur anywhere. It also can be differentiated from education as it does not require a formal assessment process.
Do you or your client find sitting and talking challenging?
Do you find nature to be a safe place for you?
Are you looking for an intervention that will work with existing therapy?
If you answer yes to any of the above questions, then EAL could be a fit for you or your client. Contact us to book your free 15 minute phone consultation to discuss your needs.
Regulating emotions (including anxiety, depression, anger, and stress)
- Social skills
- Behavioural problems
- Low self esteem
- Anxiety, depression
- Building resilience
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Grief and loss
Life changing events.
Each session is 1 hour.
Upon arrival you will need to read and sign the agreement to participate form and the client intake for with your details.
You will be given a safety guidelines for being with horses .
You will have space to sit and share what your present to before going into sharing experiences with the horses that supports your goals / Learning.
The experimental approach means that the offering with the herd will be done in ways to support your awareness, growth and learning .
Fifi Munro is Certified in the Equine Psychotherapy Institute Foundation training in Equine Assisted Learning and Has completed the advanced working with trauma training..
The EPI is an Australian model pioneered by Meg Kirby. EAL Practitioners have successfully completed over 120 hours training, supervision and assessments in EAL and now offer it.
EAL is not a therapy. It is an innovative form of experimental learning, where clients develop new insight and learn new skills via relational experience with horses.
The 7 Principals Of The EPI.
- Relationship: EAL session are grounded in a unique Practitioner, Horse, Client therapeutic and learning relationship as a primary pathway for growth and healing the i thou relationship.
- Specialist trained practitioners: Each Practitioner is trained in all competency areas including human development and change processes, horses and horsemanship and specific horse-human dynamics and practices. Practitioner offer sole practitioner sessions and team/ co facilitator session based on competency , ethics and expertise.
- Ethics: The practice is guided by clear and contracted ethical guidelines covering safety, professionalism and a commitment to continued personal growth and continued professional development.
- Theory of change: Practitioner practice from a foundation knowledge and experience of how change occurs for people and how change happens with horses and humans in the unique EAP/L Learning environment. The theory of change is explicitly taught and practiced on- Awareness , I thou relationship, experiments, and the horse – human change dynamics guides the ethics of our work.
- The Way of the Horse: Practitioners supports clients to develop “ horse “ capacities for health and wellness , including awareness, presence. Congruence, being grounded , embodied and in contact.
- Holistic: EPI practitioners work actively with all levels of self experience and relational experience- working with breath, body feelings/ thinking beliefs, values , behaviour and spirituality. It’s focus is on the interconnectedness of all levels of functioning and on self in contact/ relationship.
- Professional work and CPE: Practitioner commence very deep personal work in the training and continue this commitment to themselves as a way of life. All practitioners are committed to personal and professional development as a foundation for ethical and professional and effective practice.
Being out doors with the horses you will
Need to wear suitable clothing for the weather, so please check and for being around horses . Trousers , shorts or jeans a comfortable top. Covered in shoes to protect feet if they get trodden on by a hoof. Sun screen and a hat if hot weather.
I like to set up weekly sessions to begin with then reevaluate after 4, or fortnightly if this works for you . So we can see how we work together and this also depends on what it is you are wanting to work with.
I work with clients Tuesday to Friday 9 am to 4pm pm according to my availability and the season.
Subject to client intake assessment. Which is completed over the phone.
I accept cash or direct deposit.
We can schedule a free 15 minute consultation so we can see if we are a good fit and discuss fees.
Gestalt Equine Psychotherapy
Meggin Kirby, Gestalt Journal of Australia and New Zealand, 2010
From the ground of Gestalt therapy and the field of Equine Facilitated or Assisted Psychotherapy emerged Gestalt Equine Psychotherapy (GEP). This article introduces the reader to the relatively new therapeutic approach of Gestalt Equine Psychotherapy. As far as the author is aware, there are two centres or programs offering Gestalt Equine Psychotherapy in the world – the Gestalt Equine Institute of the Rockies (GEIR) and Gestalt Equine Psychotherapy Australia (GEPA). This article begins with my personal experience with horses, and is followed by an introduction to GEP, the process of GEP, and the role of the therapist in GEP. Some brief cases are offered to give a taste of what the work may look like. Finally, some limitations to this approach are noted.
GEP is an engaging and experiential therapy offering awareness and contact in the moment, with horses. Core themes, creative adjustments, projections and transference become evoked very quickly through contact with the horses. Being with the horses and a therapist in this process offers clients new awareness, and healing in a relational context. The horses cannot help but respond to clients with authentic contact and congruence. There is no judgement. There is a different presence where clients feel held emotionally. Being with horses also evokes an alert and heightened state of awareness, keeping oneself safe and attending to boundaries, and having one’s senses stimulated in the outdoor environment. Thus more of an embodied fullness is potentially stimulated in relationship with horses in the GEP sessions. There is an assumption made that most core themes are relational in origin and nature, and therefore the relational experiences with the horses offered by the therapist taps into this relational potential for healing. The healing can begin, and then be transferred to the therapist and other humans. GEP work is embodied, sensory, mindful, and contactful, and the processing is supportive of reflective thinking and understanding internal states, (feelings, desires, needs, patterns of contact) and how one organises experience. As a therapist, I feel the benefits of offering this work as an opportunity to continue developing my own awareness and presence, and strengthening a more creative integrated intelligence. It continues to be an honour and continual growth opportunity to be with horses every day.
2016 EAAT Literature Review By Leif Hallberg
When contemplating the foundation for The Clinical Practice of Equine-Assisted Therapy: Including Horses in Human Healthcare (Routledge, 2018), it was clear an approach was needed that would help bridge the gap between scientific research and the personal beliefs, opinions, and practices prevalent in mainstream literature or promoted by membership or training organizations.
Many providers of equine-assisted therapy report inadequate access to peer-reviewed journals (Stroud & Hallberg, 2016), which are the primary source for documenting current research and practice trends. This phenomenon is called the “science to service gap” (National Implementation Science Research Network, 2016). Common across most healthcare disciplines, the results of scientific study are not always accessible to those in clinical practice. When professionals do not have access to current research, healthcare strategies may be provided that are ineffective, outdated, or lack conclusive research results (International Council of Nurses, 2012).
To achieve this goal, a comprehensive review of research articles on equine-assisted therapy published between 1985-2016 was conducted using fourteen databases including PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, PubMed, CAB Abstracts, Psychiatric Online, Psychological and Behavioral Sciences Collection, the Social Sciences Citation Index, Nursing & Allied Health Collection, Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Collection, EBSCO Academic Search, EBSCO SPORTDiscus, EBSCO Educational Research Complete, EBSCO HealthSource, and VetMed.
Peer-reviewed (refereed) papers
Written in English
Published between 1985-2016
Directly relevant to equine-assisted therapy, but includes papers on the following related topics:
Robo (or mechanical horse simulator use as it relates to equine-assisted interventions)
Practice patterns, reviews, and perspectives related to equine-assisted interventions
Horse care and welfare, ethics, and selection criteria related to equine-assisted interventions
Horse ethology (including communication, behavior, psychology)
Safety and accident data related to working with horses.
Key Words and Search Terms
The following key words were used: Equine-assisted therapy, hippotherapy, therapeutic riding, adaptive riding, equine-assisted psychotherapy, equine-facilitated psychotherapy, equine-assisted counseling, equine-assisted learning, and equine-facilitated learning.
Additional search terms were used in conjunction with the above key words including:
Addictions or chemical dependency
Children and adolescents
Severe mental illness
Sexual assault or abuse
Traumatic brain injury
A total of 354 papers were identified that met the inclusion criteria. These articles were coded and sorted into categories by population or condition addressed by an equine intervention, or by the topic of research inquiry.
An asterisk indicates a regulated type of therapy (physical, occupation, speech, or mental health) provided by a licensed healthcare professional was utilized as the treatment intervention. Only live-horse studies were included in this distinction.
Articles without asterisks indicate a non-therapy service like adaptive riding or equine-assisted learning was used, or that the article was not clear as to if therapy was used or if the intervention was provided by a licensed healthcare professional.
Application of Attachment Theory to Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy
Published online: 14 March 2013, Spriner Science+Business Media New York 2013
Equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) is a form of animal-assisted therapy used to treat human psychological problems that employs horses in and around the natural surroundings of the stables. Despite the increasing number of professionals and organizations that offer this innovative therapy, EFP lacks a firm theoretical and
research base. This paper aims to reveal how attachment theory can inform and enrich theory and practice of EFP. It explores the fit between central features of EFP and several of the primary concepts of attachment-based psychotherapy, such as: secure base and haven of safety through the provision of a holding environment, affect mirroring, mentalizing and reflective functioning, and non-verbal communication and body experience. This work is composed of definitions of these concepts, their application to human–horse context and EFP, and interpretation in light of potential therapeutic (transformative) processes.
Attachment theory Equine-facilitated psychotherapy Attachment-based psychotherapy Animal-assisted therapy Human–horse relations
Attachment as a Guiding Theory for Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy Based on literature and clinical observations, the author proposed that attachment theory can be applied to EFP to enhance its theoretical basis and address some of the gap between practice and knowledge. The application of attachment theory-based psychotherapy to EFP illustrates that there is a good fit between primary concepts of attachment theory and some of the central features of EFP. This application is both relevant and also would inform better practice of EFP. A number of areas of attachment theory such as safe haven, affect mirroring, reflective functioning and non-verbal communication were applied to EFP via theoretical underpinnings and clinical anecdotes. For example, one of the most unique aspects of utilizing
horses in psychotherapy is their ability to provide instantaneous feedback, as described concerning affect mirroring, mentalizing and reflective functioning sections. This is one of the central characteristics that explain the contribution
of horses to the therapy context. Other clinical anecdotes illustrate how the inclusion of equines in therapy offers benefits above and beyond traditional attachment-based psychotherapy, via their unique presence and the experiential and physical domains. During EFP, multiple opportunities for experiencing intimate relationships
with the therapist as well as with the horse are provided through an experiential process. Furthermore, EFP involves relational dynamics that may correspond to preverbal experiences. Thus, EFP entails the co-creation of relationships that may foster attachment feelings and behaviors. Such a process can help shift the client’s experience towards a more coherent and secure sense of self. Yet, these and other concepts should be further explored. For example, the therapeutic alliance of client-horse-therapist and relational opportunities that it may offer could be further examined in light of attachment theory. Furthermore, this paper explored the application of attachment theory to EFP from the clients’ perspectives. Notably, the inclusion of animals in therapy can also provide a safe haven and a secure base for the therapist. Their presence may offer a source of comfort for the therapist, when engaged in challenging and complex processes with clients (Zilcha-Mano et al. 2011b). In addition, such a theoretical exploration should be followed by empirical studies that will provide the grounds for these theoretical claims and will situate them in the lived experience within the therapeutic process. Inquiries may be conducted by a research design that is composed of established measures such as the Adult Attachment Interview, with additional questions at the end concerning the experience participants have with horses. Consequently, this paper can serve as a reference to further theorize and explore the link between attachment theory and EFP.