Experiential Learning With Horses

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to combine experiential learning with horses?

Take a moment to think about this:

Life is a series of events; a non-stop movement through time.  Even when we are sleeping we are experiencing rest, dreams, physical change. Our brain is continually processing input and placing that information within our bodies.

Unfortunately, we all experience mistakes, pain, even trauma that can impact our ability to adapt in a healthy way.  Trauma is completely subjective – what impacts one person may have no effect on another, but may occur if:

  1. Something happened unexpectedly – you were unprepared for it – and you felt powerless to prevent it. (My personal traumatic experience was my son being born with a very rare brain disorder).
  2. Something happened repeatedly
  3. Something happened in childhood

Those events run the gamut:  A car accident, a dog bit you, you were attacked, your parents divorced, chronic illness, the death of a loved one, your house burned down, etc., etc., etc.

The emotional/psychological symptoms from that range from denial, inability to concentrate, anger, mood swings, anxiety, shame, lack of emotional connection, withdrawing from others….all rooted in fear because we were powerless to control the experience and powerless to control if it happens again.

Physical symptoms range from aches and pains, muscle tension, agitation, fatigue, insomnia. We don’t take into consideration that, like I mentioned earlier, our brain places that experience in our bodies.

What Experiential Therapy does is help individuals connect to underlying issues, ranging from maladaptive relationship patterns to unresolved trauma. It is more of a technique rather than just a form of psychotherapy. It requires engaging in an activity that assists clients in finding a sense of control and awareness in the moment.  In the present.

The experience itself gives clients the opportunity to discover that they do have power in their lives by improving problem-solving skills and re-engaging with emotions that have been buried – both good and bad. It also allows the therapist greater insight into their clients because clients are more likely to reveal true feelings and behaviors during an activity that they may not present in an office setting.

These activities could be yoga, painting, gardening….and horses!

At Horse’s Way, we utilize Equine-Assisted Therapy, which is a form of Experiential  Therapy.  It involves using horses as part of the therapy process. Clients don’t typically ride the horses. Rather, they participate in various tasks such as grooming, feeding, harnessing, leading the horses.  What is revealed in the client are patterns in their physical and emotional daily living,

The horses are a therapeutic tool enabling the clients to identify, acknowledge, release, and change negative emotions and self-defeating behaviors, and reconnect with joy, accomplishment, and self-worth.

Experience experiential learning with horses for yourself! Contact us today to learn more about corporate wellness training, group and individual therapies.

The blog post was written by Kelly Morris, MAPC  LPC