Healing Reins Therapeutic Riding Center is proud to announce our new Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) program, a unique and groundbreaking therapeutic model, used around the country as a dynamic, powerful tool in mental health therapy. EFP specifically targets people with mental and emotional health issues, stemming from traumatic life events, chemical imbalances, cognitive disorders and a wide range of other mental and emotional health problems.
Through Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy, the focus is not horsemanship or horseback riding, but rather a safe place for the client and therapist to engage in activities with a horse or horses, and use the horse(s) to help process feelings, thoughts and reactions.
The horse serves as a giant “biofeedback machine” so that therapists can easily see the client’s motives, reactions and abilities. Horses are uniquely suited to this kind of therapy, because they are intuitive and will react to behavior patterns and cues that people might miss, allowing the therapist and patient to interact on a deeper level and address issues that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Group, couple, family and one-on-one counseling sessions are available through the Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy program at Healing Reins. Therapists know there are immense benefits to “outside four walls” therapy. As a therapeutic riding center, our goal is to offer all of our students and patients a safe, fun outlet for metaphorical learning and a healthy, empowering relationship with horses. Our licensed therapists and well-trained horses work together to create a unique therapeutic experience, not unlike a ropes course. EFP has even more benefits than other similar therapies because of the living relationship with the horses themselves. Our EFP sessions are confidential.
Studies show that Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy has been helpful for patients in the following areas, and more are added every day:
- Emotional awareness
- Stress tolerance
- Impulse control
- Problem-solving skills
- Social responsibility
- Interpersonal relationships
- Cognitive disability
- Personality disorders
- Mood disorders
- Emotional/physical trauma
Healing Reins Therapeutic Riding Center contracts independently with three excellent local therapists to provide services:
Anna Thedford, M.A., LPC
Lisa Bradley, MA, R-DMT, LPCi
A 2007 study from Society and Animals noted that: “As predicted, participants showed significant and stable reductions in overall psychological distress and enhancements in psychological well-being, from pre-test to post-test and follow-up. They reported fewer psychological symptoms and reductions in the intensity of their psychological distress. They reported being (a) more oriented in the present; (b) better able to live more fully in the here-and-now; (c) less burdened by regrets, guilt, and resentments; (d) less focused on fears related to the future; (e) more independent; and (f ) more self-supportive.”
Clinical Child Psychiatry conducted a study in April 2012 of an equine-assisted psychotherapy program for at-risk youths, which noted that all the participants ultimately reported better self-image, self-control, trust and general life satisfaction. All ages can benefit from the therapy, the report noted, which is most commonly used for those struggling with issues of addiction, depression, sexual abuse, anxiety, schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders.
HRTRC officially launched this program in 2014 after much research and discussion with local and national mental health experts. Central Oregon needs new therapeutic options for a growing population, and mental health services are a vital part of any healthy community. The potential for EFP is truly remarkable and we are thrilled to have the chance to share our program with Central Oregon residents.
If you are in need of mental health services, or are a therapist and interested in partnering with Healing Reins, please contact Polly Cohen, Program Director, pollyc(at)healingreins(dot)org or 541-382-9410.