The incorporation of equines (i.e., horses and donkeys) and the equine environment into the therapy process by a licensed mental health practitioner provides clients an alternative to the traditional office setting. In choosing to include a more natural and experiential environment with your therapist, you still receive the same clinical treatment as you would in the office, but with the added benefit of interacting with equines and the outdoors. Relating to horses together with your therapist in nature creates a unique therapeutic synergy to enhance the treatment experience.
Research continues to demonstrate general health and psychological benefits from human connections with animals. Studies show that simple contact with an animal can lower blood pressure and respiratory rates and provide a sense of wellbeing and calmness. We are also learning that collaborating with animals on the ground reaches far beyond these wellness benefits.
Equines are acutely adept and swift to process information via their sensory organs. They are continuously scanning their environment seeking serenity, calmness, safety, and survival. They are also innately herd-oriented with a high need for socialization with their species. They possess an uncanny ability to process environmental stimuli in the here-and-now equips them to provide honest and immediate feedback about how they perceive our presence and actions.
Domestic horses are deeply socialized with humans; however, their willingness to interact with us is not innate. With every interaction, we must still earn the privilege to be in that authentic space and to experience their serenity, calmness, and safety. If we violate that privilege, they will let us know immediately. They are masters at non-verbal communication! Through an experiential process horses guide us to behave in a manner that allows us to be present in their world of serenity, calmness, and honesty.
Domestic horses, like those used in our EFC program, are deeply socialized with humans; however, their willingness to interact with us is not innate. With every interaction, we must still earn the privilege to be in that authentic space and to experience their serenity, calmness, and safety. If we violate that privilege, they will let us know immediately. They are masters at non-verbal communication! Through an experiential process, or _dance_ as we call it, horses guide us to behave in a manner that allows us to be present in their world of serenity, calmness, and honesty. They guide us to a more authentic way of being and behaving.
Each Horse and Donkey has a unique personality. One trait they all have in common, though, is their gentle and kind demeanor.
Leotie is a young Mustang mare who was once wild living in the vastness of the Salt Wells, Wyoming open range until she was nearly 5 years old.
In 2016 she was adopted by her human and has underwent significant training to gentle and transition her to a life of domestication. As a once wild prey animal, her heightened sensory abilities enabling her to read and respond to human interactions are unsurpassed. She is very gentle and kind, and energetic.
Joey is an elderly and wise Spotted Saddle horse whose lived a long active life. He is a gentle and caring soul and keeps a close watch over the herd. Joey is highly trained and has many years of experience trail riding and competing in shows and obstacle courses with his human partner. Joey still enjoys his active lifestyle of pleasure riding.
Tehya is a young Jenny (aka female) Burro that lived the life as a wild burro roaming the Mojave Desert in Arizona until she was gathered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the age of 3.5 yrs. Tehya was adopted by her human shortly after her gather in 2018 and was 10 months pregnant at the time. She is now a trained, gentle and loving equine with strong prey instincts. Tehya is the mother of Lewana.
Lewana is the foal of Tehya. She was born Sep 25, 2018. She is very playful and social. She loves attention. Lewana is the farm’s protector and often the first equine to greet visitors when they arrive to assess their intentions with the herd.
In addition to individual psychotherapy that includes equines, Ray of Hope Counseling Services also offers the following group therapies that incorporate equine interactions.
• Military/Veteran specific group therapy
• Teen skill building, ages 12-17 group therapy
For more information about adding equine interactions and a natural environment to your therapy, please contact the Ray of Hope Counseling Services main office at 678-213-2194 to schedule an initial clinical assessment or speak with one of our clinical staff.