Equine Facilitated Counseling and Equine Assisted Learning are designed to be personal experiences. I often get odd looks when I first start to explain what it is we do out here at the barn, so I would like to take time through this blog to share some of our experiences.
To set the stage, each session is facilitated by an Equine Specialist – the person that knows the horses & their personalities & typical behavior, in charge of organizing the space, getting the horses ready, keeping any eye on physical safety- a horse or 3 or the whole herd – the horses don’t need special training or skills, just being horses, & often a licensed therapist or teacher to help guide the processing.
Sometimes we’re in the arena, sometimes a roundpen, sometimes we venture out in the pasture or sit on the bench & watch.
Each session is different & as facilitators we do not try to guide or anticipate what is going on until the clients tell us.
We have several clients that struggle with anxiety. One gal was unable to go to school because her anxiety was so crippling. In one of her first sessions we had her build school with the materials we had in the arena, then take her horse through her day. Just watching what she built we were able to help her see that the beginning of her day was the most stressful, then as the day went on it got easier & easier. As she took her horse through her day he reacted to her tension, helping her practice getting through that hurdle of her routine. At first he couldn’t get through the morning until she simplified it, then he hesitated but got through. Then after a couple times through it got easier. The client was able to see that if she made changes to her routine it changed how she felt about it & made things easier for her. She was able to tell her parents through her arena what her anxiety felt like, clarify the conversation & make changes to make her days less daunting.