“Horses are sensitive and extremely responsive to human emotions and body language ...Those qualities make a horse the perfect partner for for a skilled psychotherapist—especially when treating issues like trauma, low-self esteem, and anxiety.”
Needville, TX (PRWEB) May 31, 2013
On May 21, a group of Houston-based educational consultants, therapists, and treatment professionals were invited to tour Fulshear Ranch Academy—a unique young-adult treatment and transitional-living program for women, ages 18 – 24, with emotional and behavioral issues. But instead of just walking the campus, the group of professionals trotted, cantered, and even—at times—galloped.
“Equestrian activities such as riding, horse care, and sophisticated equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) are a foundational part of our clients’ experience while here,” said Fulshear admissions director, Irene Kotter, “so we thought we’d give these professionals a real taste of life at Fulshear instead of the usual walk and talk tour.”
The highlight of the tour, said Kotter, was an actual EAP session led by Fulshear’s licensed therapists and certified EAP specialists. In the group debrief that followed the session, participants discussed emotions that emerged during their interactions with the horse, the therapist, and each other, reporting everything from an urge to control, to frustration, to difficulty finding their role in the group. This kind of rich emotional material gives a therapist access to important emotional clues that can accelerate therapy.
Even though EAP is still considered a relatively new and innovative treatment approach, its efficacy has been validated by numerous clinical studies and it is highly regarded among treatment professionals. Therapists must not only possess expert horse-handling skills, they must also undergo rigorous clinical training and testing to become EAGALA-certified practitioners of EAP.
“Horses are sensitive and extremely responsive to human emotions and body language. They can also seem a little intimidating at first,” said Lucy Austin, an EAGALA-certified EAP specialist at Fulshear. “Those qualities make a horse the perfect partner for a skilled psychotherapist—especially when treating issues like trauma, low-self esteem, and anxiety.”
But the day wasn’t ultimately about horses. The professionals also enjoyed lunch with current and alumni students at the transitional-living campus in nearby Sugar Land, Texas. During lunch, the young women candidly discussed the challenges and triumphs they experienced over the course of their year at Fulshear. They also discussed Fulshear’s experiential life-skills curriculum and their personal journeys toward healthy, confident young adulthood.