Lead Changes Recovery

Equine Assisted Learning & Therapy Center

Equine EAGALA Sessions- Our Model

Are you looking for an interactive and engaging therapeutic experience, beyond traditional talk therapy? Come, join the herd for an Eagala session and discover insights through doing. Veterans, trauma survivors, youth with emotional challenges and anxieties, and others have found solutions and life lessons through the Eagala Model.  

Lead Changes Recovery is offering both equine-assisted learning and equine-assisted psychotherapy sessions for children, teens, and adults. Eagala sessions are directed by a licensed, credentialed Mental Health Professional and a credentialed Equine Specialist. All sessions happen on the ground and are entirely unmounted. 

Eagala is an experiential model of therapy where the client is given the space to actively find their own solutions to their problems and apply them in a safe, low-risk environment. Horses, objects, and situations in the arena become symbols for the client’s life experience. The client engages with these symbols and finds unique answers to life’s questions. Clients work with a group of horses during the sessions and the horses respond to each client’s nonverbal behavior. As prey animals, horses are masters of nonverbal communication. Horses instinctively respond to the client’s body language and allow the client to interact with a physical representation of how they are feeling. 

Eagala is a great option for people who learn best by doing! As an experiential model, clients physically work with and experience the symbols they create in the arena. Most of the work done in Eagala sessions is nonverbal and happens internally. 

Eagala sessions take place in a private arena with the horses. All sessions are completely confidential and are directed by a team certified in Eagala work. Each team consists of a licensed, credentialed mental health specialist and a credentialed equine specialist to ensure mental and physical safety. 

Learn more about the Eagala Model at www.eagala.org

History of Equine Assisted Therapy and Equine Assisted Learning

Equine therapy, also known as Equine-Assisted Therapy (EAT), is a treatment that includes equine activities and/or an equine environment in order to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth in persons suffering from ADD, Anxiety, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Dementia, Depression, Developmental Delay, Genetic Syndromes (such as Down Syndrome), traumatic brain injuries, behavioral issues, abuse issues, and many other mental health problems.  Equine Therapy can help the individual build confidence, self- efficiency, communication, trust, perspective, social skills, impulse control, and learn boundaries.  Since the horses have similar behaviors with humans, such as social and responsive behaviors, it is easy for the patients to create a connection with the horse.  Riders with disabilities demonstrate their remarkable accomplishments in national and international sport riding competitions. Equine-Assisted Therapies have been recognized in the medical and mental health  field by most major countries.

Equine therapy dates back to the times when horses were used for therapeutic riding in ancient Greek literature. Orbasis of ancient Lydia documented the therapeutic value of riding in 600 B.C. In 1946, Equine Therapy was introduced in Scandinavia after an outbreak of poliomyelitis.

Therapeutic Riding was introduced to the United States and Canada in 1960 with the formation of the Community Association of Riding of the Disabled (CARD). In the United States riding for the disabled developed as a form of recreation and as a means of motivation for education, as well as its therapeutic benefits.

Animals such as elephants, dolphins, dogs, and cats have also been used for therapeutic purposes. Horses become the most popular animal to use in animal therapy because they give immediate feedback to the handler or rider’s actions. Horses also have the ability to mirror the feelings of the handler or rider. Horses’ large and intimidating appearance forces and individual to gain trust around them.

What is it?

Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is the practice of using horses for emotional growth. Participants in therapy or learning sessions use feelings, behaviors, and patterns to better understand the horse and themselves. The field of using horses for therapy is new and growing rapidly. It has been proven to be very effective in building confidence, improving communication and giving personal insights to participants involved with equine assisted therapy.

Equine therapy can involve more than just riding the horse. In some sessions, a client might not even touch the horse at all. Often the therapist leading the session will set goals for the client to complete, such as leading the horse to a designated area or putting a halter on the horse. The client will complete the task to the best of their ability and then discuss the thought process, ideas and problem solving used to complete the task. Discussing what the client is doing at a given time allows them to improve language skills. Listening to the instructor helps improve the individuals ability to listen and follow directions, ask questions, etc. Not only is there communication between the handler and the instructor, but also between the handler and the horse.  This skill becomes especially helpful for those who are struggling with anxiety as often times they are stuck in worry about the past, or catastrophic thinking about the future.  This activity encourages a person to be present and focused on the task at hand.

Therapists who teach Equine-Assisted Therapies can easily adapt Cognitive Therapy as well as play and talk therapy. Depending on the nature of the diagnosis for which the therapy is being applied, the Equine therapist is able to make decisions about the processes or techniques applied in the sessions. Main techniques used are Cognitive Therapy, practicing activities, activity scheduling, play therapy and story telling and talk therapy.

What skills are developed in sessions?

Much of the equine therapy is facilitated by non-verbal communication skills. Horses, like many other animals, communicate non-verbally. They use body language and often mirror the emotions and behaviors of the participants that surround them. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy builds skills in the following areas:

  • Problem Solving

  • Work Ethic

  • Personal Responsibility

  • Teamwork

  • Confidence

  • Attitude

  • Emotional Growth

  • Relationship Building

EAP Vs. EAL

For starters Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is not horsemanship. The focus is not on riding, but on psychology. A licensed clinical professional is needed in order to consider the activities EAP.

EAP uses horses experientially for emotional growth and learning. It is an effort made by the therapist and horse riding professionals to work with clients in treatment disorders. EAP can be compared in nature to ropes courses taught by some therapists because the students learn feelings, behaviors, teamwork, and patterns when participating in EAP. EAP has the added bonus of using living animals that are both beautiful and powerful which leads to an emotional connection between the horse and individuals involved in therapy with it. EAP often develops the following characteristics within clients.

  • Leadership development

  • Team-building

  • Communication

  • Problem solving

  • Organizational change

  • Decision making

 

EAL is similar to EAP, in that is involves using horses. EAL and EAP are often interchanged, but EAL deals more with the horsemanship aspect of Equine therapy. EAL is the process, while EAP is the actual program.

EAL and EAP are often used for  clients who are experiencing the following:

  • Personal issues

  • Focus problems and Attention Deficit Disorder

  • Social anxiety or shyness

  • Anxiety

  • Trauma

  • Anger and acting out

  • Grief and loss

  • Poor self-esteem

  • Substance abuse recovery

  • Communication

  • Interpersonal relationships

  • Stress

  • Burnout

The Roles of the Horse

This list includes characteristics of horses that make them unique for therapy.

Non-judgmental and unbiased: Horses react only to the patient’s behavior and emotions and are not biased by the patient’s physical appearance or past mistakes. Patients describe this as being crucial to the therapy and aids in increase of self-esteem and self-confidence.

Feedback and mirroring: Their nature as a prey and herd animal makes them hyper vigilant and sensitive, thus making them keen observers. This means that their feedback is provided earlier and more consistently than with a human therapist. The horse has an innate tendency to mirror the patient’s behavior, physical movements and emotions, which help the participant be more aware of him or herself. It allows patients to “feel felt”. This feedback can then be translated by the equine specialist and analyzed by the group.

Metaphor for real life: The ability of a therapist to use the horse as a metaphor for other issues helps make the equine treatment applicable to real life problems.  An example of how a therapist can help the patient work out issues in their own lives through the use of the horse as a metaphor: “One child was having great difficulty discussing how they were feeling about an upcoming move to another state. She was, however, able to offer many suggestions for how to help a horse that was being sold feel more comfortable in his new environment”.   Using the horse as a metaphor for his own move, the child better understood and could cope with her own move.

How do I Book a Session?

There are 3 ways to book a session with us.

1) You may book through us  by checking availability on our scheduling site. 

    https://www.schedulicity.com/scheduling/BSSCRQ

2) If you are working with a mental health provider and would like to try an EAL or EAT session using our horses and equine professional you may contact us and set up a meeting with your Mental Health Professional to staff a session. You are responsible for the Equine payment to us and the Mental health payment to your provider. 

3) You may  book team building activities for your sports team, employees, or group. We provide a fun and exceptional learning experience for our clients. 

Coming soon - Parenting and Anger Management!!!