I sent out an email to a provider recently describing how the process of Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy can look with kids and teens to treat trauma and attachment. I thought it would make a good mini-blog post for others interested!
In sessions the clients choose a horse to work with to form a real relationship with. We have three very different personalities in the herd to choose from and we will be adding a new friend next year as well! While the client is forming a relationship with their horse partner, they come up against patterns. These patterns are difficulties that they have in human relationships too, such as control, dysregulation, communication, and everything else you can imagine. The client is able to work on changing those patterns in the moment with a very attuned and sensitive being that understands our emotional energy. See more about “Why horses?” in the FAQ.
That can look many different ways depending on the child, such as lacking confidence in making requests of another and thus using control or shutting down. We would then work on ways of staying regulated when triggered and being mindful of connection with the horse. Central to the relationship building are the attachment skills of giving care, receiving care, being an autonomous self, and negotiating needs from Jude Cassidy in the article, “Truth, lies, and intimacy: An attachment perspective.” How a child deals with those skills in human relationships will show up in sessions with the horse. Even more basic is that the horses allow the opportunity to practice coping with stress and dysregulation in the moment since they will not engage unless the client is at a stable energy. Everything in EAP is very experiential and thus building brain connections that can be used in their human relationships. There is also the possibility of mounted work to build brain connections for regulation using the horse's bilateral movements and brain exercises. Mounted work can also be integrated when the client has built a connect relationship and is ready to process trauma.
I hope this gives more of an explanation as to how horses can help children and teens with attachment and trauma therapy. If you think your child would be a good fit for this kind of healing, please give me a call to chat about it! 715-200-3838