The Impacts of Horse Therapy
February 16th 2021
Long gone are the days of dingy offices with oddly shaped couches, a psychiatrist drawing out his latest doodle, and a client, all too timid to share his story. The world of counselling and psychotherapy has evolved over the last decade as an interpersonal foray between therapist and client. Collins Counselling, a Kamloops-based Counselling service is breaking the mould by introducing equine therapy to their toolbox and disrupting the traditional office setting (not dingy by any means, but still offered!).
While it may seem odd at first, you won’t be sharing your most innermost thoughts with a horse and eagerly awaiting feedback as it munches on hay. Horse therapy is shown to reduce stress and lower blood pressure, easing the client into an open discussion with the therapist. The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship labels equine therapy as ‘equine-assisted activities’ and the Professional Association of Equine Facilitated Wellness remarks on the ‘sensitivity, perceptiveness, and intuition equines can offer’ humans. Horses have been shown to help identify and process feelings with a human and respond in kind. To paint the picture, a person with anger-charged language and behaviour may cause the horse to shy away, helping the client connect with their emotions through a physical display. Likewise, a horse can sense when a person is experiencing positive emotions and mimic a person's behaviour by drawing closer or allowing physical contact from the client.
Horse therapy has a list of benefiting certain other medical conditions that may be interacting with the client’s mental health such as MS, spinal cord injuries, and Fibromyalgia. (Source)
Collins Counselling is readily available to help facilitate interactions with the four-legged, emotionally reactive animals. A Buddhist concept called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a mindfulness exercise emphasizing the understanding of powerful emotions and impactful events. When used in conjunction with equine therapy, clients may experience an uptake in focus, creativity, curiosity, and well-being.
Outside of the listed benefits and those unspoken for in this article, horse therapy can help encourage the development of perseverance, and respect for other living beings as the client can visualize the impact of their presence on the world. Horses are resilient, powerful animals and share a natural bond with humans as demonstrated as far back as 3000 B.C. when man first tamed wild horses. This connection has been instilled in the human psyche for thousands of years and now, with the emphasis on non-pharma solutions to psychological conditions, the relationship between man and horse can be developed further.
Collins Counselling is set up to facilitate therapy programs with the introduction of their equine companions to help make an impact on their clients’ mental health. You can reach Robin Collins of Collins Counselling by booking an appointment online or simply ask for more information.