When you think of going to therapy, you probably think about lying on a couch and talking to someone as Freud did with his patients in the early 1890s. Therapy, however, is not like that at all and not all therapy relies on verbal processing (talking). Some of the most effective therapies use the brain-body connection to help people resolve their problems.
Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP) is an experiential model of treatment which means that individuals in this treatment modality are doing activities instead of just talking. TF-EAP uses interpersonal neurobiology, attachment theory, trauma-informed care and the principles of Natural Lifemanship to assist individuals in developing healthier relationships with themselves, others and the world. The ability to have healthy relationships with ourselves and others is the core of a healthy society and world.
In TF-EAP an individual chooses a horse to work with in their sessions. As the person develops a relationship with his horse, he interacts with his horse friend the same way he does with others in his life, and he exposes the beliefs and bias that he uses to navigate through the world, allowing the treatment team to quickly identify the problems he is having within himself and with others.
As he struggles in understanding his own needs and wants, his horse friend’s needs and wants, how to make appropriate and fair requests and learning to balance his needs and wants with his horse friend’s needs and wants, he has the opportunity to learn new skills that improve his relationship with himself and his horse friend. The skills he discovers he can apply to other relationships in his life.
When attempting to change patterns of relating with oneself and others, it is not enough to talk through issues. To make lasting change, a person must create new neural pathways in the brain. That is they must engage in doing new behaviors and having new experiences. The more a person participates in doing the new behaviors the stronger the neural pathways become. So, to have healthy, connected, and attuned relationships with yourself and others you must practice having healthy, connected, attuned relationships.