Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
A Therapeutic Animal can bring a sense of tranquility to your spirit – there is a release and transference of a person’s stressor or burden to the animal who willingly receives it to create an intimate bond. This connection between the person and animal provides a grounding force which often brings a sense of stability and peace.
At Luna Tesoro Ranch we use traditional psychotherapy combined with therapeutic riding and horse related activities as a pathway to mental health and wellness.
You might be wondering how the presence of an animal in the counseling process can speed the progress of therapy for some patients. Therapy animals assist therapists in helping clients with a multitude of goals such as improving self-esteem and developing social skills, as well as providing help for anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The presence of animals themselves is soothing and can more quickly build rapport between the therapist and client. In addition, therapy animals, especially horses and dogs, have built-in survival skills that makes them able to pick up social cues imperative to human relationships. Therapists can process that information and use it to help clients see how their behavior affects others. Clients realize behavioral cues practiced with a therapy animal can be carried out beyond the time they spend with the animal and applied to other settings whether it’s getting along with their peers or talking to their counselor. A horses’ direct and non-judgmental feedback allows clients to identify unproductive patterns, connect with strengths, and create change in the moment.
Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) introduced animals into the therapeutic world and began in the early 1990s and thus is a relatively new field. And even though research is limited, some documented studies have shown a significant drop in stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and aldosterone and an increase in “health inducing and social inducing” hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins after only 20 minutes with a therapy dog.
There seems to be a psycho-physiological, emotional and physical component to interacting with a therapy animal. And the key that links all of these positive benefits is the release of oxytocin, a healthy social hormone – sometimes referred to as the hug hormone. In addition to lowering blood pressure and heart rate, oxytocin is a powerful healing mechanism.
Therapy animals have also returned the positive benefits of touch back to counseling. Touch has been understandably removed from therapy, especially with counseling youth, but at a cost.
AAT provides a purely nonjudgmental space for individuals to work out their problems. Animals don’t know that you’ve had a divorce or that you’re dealing with sexual or physical abuse. But it’s also the sheer presence of an animal, their acceptance and admirable ability to express themselves without holding anything back that makes animal-assisted therapy so powerful. They accept you for the way you are flaws and all. They are so forgiving and always happy to see you. Their behavior is so consistent and it’s just comforting to people knowing that there is a being there that you can always count on to be happy to see you and not judge you for anything you’ve done.
Because of its intensity and effectiveness, this work is considered a short-term modality. If you are currently in therapy, we work to help you integrate your growth and learning and build upon the skills you are developing.
Luna Tesoro Ranch
At Luna Tesoro Ranch, we offer Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP), a specialized form of psychotherapy using the horse as a therapeutic tool.
EAP is an experiential treatment modality for individuals, couples and families. Fancy is our gentle spirited therapeutic horse. Contact us to explore how you or someone you know could benefit from Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.