Differences Between Equine Therapy and Equine Assisted Counselling

February 18th 2022

Horses have always been central in the life of Kamloops-based counsellor Robin Collins. It was her lifelong love of horses combined with an empathetic nature and interest in psychology that led her to the completion of her Master of Science in Counselling with a concentration in Equine-Assisted Mental Health. An often-used component of her practice is utilizing horse-assisted therapy for her clients.

Horse-assisted therapy goes by a few different terms with similar meaning. It doesn't take much research in Google searches to find that "equine therapy" and "equine-assisted counselling" are used interchangeably. If you search long enough though, you might notice a slight difference.

Equine-assisted counselling (aka horse-assisted therapy) typically refers to a counsellor offering therapy services to a human client, with the assistance of horses. Horses provide a caring, safe environment for humans to heal, explore, and work on moving forward in their lives. Although Robin now uses equine-assisted therapy with her clients, she says she experienced the benefits of interacting with these magnificent animals firsthand. She says horses taught her “the intricacies of relationships and how delicate the balance is between respect, trust, communication, and boundaries.” Her passion for horses and her commitment to helping others now work in tandem through her equine-assisted counselling approach.

Equine Therapy (aka horse therapy) often means exactly the same thing. But it can mean something else entirely. In certain instances, and certain Google searches, equine therapy refers to a professional that provides therapeutic services to horses. Equine therapists, in this sense, are dedicated to working with clients in support of the health of their horses. The BC College of Equine Therapy is dedicated to training students to work with horses as part of their Equine Sport Therapy Program.

While both meanings of equine therapy are valid and correct, Robin’s focus is on the one that refers to the benefits that equine interactions have on her human clients. Rooted in relational counselling, equine-assisted counselling allows people to explore their relationships with others as well as their relation to self. Horses are by nature authentic and honest, basing their interactions on respect, boundaries, and trust, all elements required to build healthy relationships among humans as well.

Robin explains:

“Including horses in the counselling sessions provides individuals with a unique experience that mirrors real-life.”

This mirroring allows people to increase self-awareness through non-judgmental, intuitive equine interactions and thereby creates a safe environment to explore relationships in their life and teaches them how to build and maintain healthy relationships.

At Collins Wellness, we believe that increasing self-awareness is the first step to becoming healthier, happier humans. Our multi-disciplinary approach ensures that we find the right combination of therapies for each individual. Whether strictly equine-assisted, or in combination with in-office talk therapy and nature-based therapy, our goal is to provide treatment specific to each client’s needs.

If you’re thinking about taking the first step to a better self, reach out today to book an appointment or get more information about our services. From children and youth to adults and families, everyone is welcome at Collins Wellness.

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