The Equine Assisted Philosophy...
Looking at the herd dynamics of the horse can help us to understand our behavior.
Horses are quick to respond to any risk by retreating.1 This fear can be set off by something as simple as leaves blowing in the wind, or someone approaching the horse suddenly or in a threatening manner. The responses of the horses’ however, provide the setting for creating metaphors. The way the horse reacts provides immediate feedback to the client. For example, if clients are frustrated or angry, horses may respond by pinning their ears back or being uncooperative.
1. Kersten, G., & Thomas, L. (1999). Equine assisted psychotherapy and learning. Un- training manual level II. Santaquin, UT: EAGALA, Inc.
The Philosophy of
Psychotherapy & Equine Assisted Learning
by EGALA founder Greg Kersten
PRESSURE/PAIN: Awareness of how our equine counterparts respond (physically or mentally) to pressure, physical or emotional, and pain, physical or emotional, can give us insight into our own
responses. Do we know when we are feeling pressure versus pain? Do we respond appropriately and healthfully? Horses teach us how to evaluate and respond to the world around us.
ATTENTION/AT-EASE: Both aspects of life are essential, but not necessarily in equal parts. Horses have mastered their individual balance between time at attention, and time at-ease. We learn to identify our own needs and imbalances, as well as those of the people around us. This simple, yet profound philosophy teaches us to be more effective communicators, businesspeople, friends, and human beings.
RE-CIRCLE PROCESS: New and unknown circumstances elicit a notable response from horses. Typically physical, this response demonstrates a safe, measured, and therapeutic way for humans to
confront the more fearsome aspects of life. A mental metaphor can be made to signify the physical Re-Circle Process to optimize our way of perceiving and thinking about situations we encounter every day.
PUSH/PULL: Horses provide both physical and emotional metaphors into our own behavioral patterns. When do we push? When do we pull? Do we do one more than the other? When do we push and when do we pull? How does our pushing and pulling behavior affect others?
THE NONVERBAL ZONES: Do you know what you are saying when you aren't saying anything? Horses make good use of their body language to convey the most basic and important messages to each other. Humans do the same. Sometimes what our mouths say is not in alignment with what our bodies say. The three nonverbal zones identified in EAP instruct us to be more effective communicators by
aligning our verbal and nonverbal messages.
Warrior Wellness equine assistance important part of healing process
by Tech. Sgt. Mareshah Haynes
Air Force News Service
"We do on-the-ground exercises and some exercises on horseback and (Soldiers) work with a pair of trained equine specialists who help devise the exercises and work with them on the ground," said Jeannie Springer, an accounting clerk and equine specialist. "We ask very open ended questions based on our observations and things that we see."
Each member of the equestrian center staff is certified through the O.K. Corral series, that was developed by the founder of equine-assisted therapy.
The EAL doesn't just consist of horseback riding. Soldiers help care for the horses and use them as tools for some of their lessons. Guests may be asked to identify which horse's behavior in the herd they can relate with the most and why. Often, the horse becomes a metaphor for the Soldier.
Even though a horse may weigh well over 1,200 pounds, it is still an animal of prey. Horses live in a constant state of hyper-awareness, something that many Soldiers who live with PTSD can identify with.
Psychotherapy & Equine Assisted Learning Certification
Gail holds the following certifications:
FL Licensed Mental Health Counselor
M.S. Mental Health Counseling
Department of Veterans Affairs' PTSD 101:
1. A PTSD Core Curriculum
2. Beyond the Basics
3. VA/DOD PTSD Clinical Practice Guideline Series
Board Certified Christian Counselor with the Board of Christian Professional and Pastoral Counselors
Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT)
Correctional Counseling INC. NREPP included in SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) currently being studied for the treatment of veterans with PTSD at the University of South Florida
O.K. Corral "Coming Home" EAP/EAL certification focusing on the needs of returning veterans and their families. Specific applications include readjustment, depression, addictions, and issues families experience when their loved ones are deployed.
O.K. Corral "Faith-Based Applications for Equine-Assisted Programs and Practices" equine-assisted philosophy and faith-based exercises make the natural connection between herd behavior and human wellness
HIV/AIDS ICAN training
American Counseling Association (ACA)
Chi Sigma Iota Counseling and Academic Professional Honor society International