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Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy is not horsemanship or horseback riding, but rather a safe place for you and your therapist to engage in activities with a horse or horses, and use the horse(s) to help process feelings, thoughts and reactions. 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 client to interact on a deeper level and address issues that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Studies show that Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy has been helpful for clients in the following areas: PTSD, emotional/physical trauma, addictions, anxiety and depression, mood disorders, assertiveness, increasing emotional awareness, empathy, stress tolerance, impulse control, problem-solving skills, self-actualization, independence, self-esteem,  interpersonal relationships, and grief/loss.

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Sessions involve engaging in activities with the horses or the horse environment. While the majority of these sessions are ground-based with horses (do not include riding), there are some interventions and approaches which may include mounted experiences.

Some examples of what sessions may involve include:

Clients spend time observing the horses. Horses are a lot like humans, and as such, watching them can bring insights and learning that connects to life. Through projection, and with the support of the mental health professional team, client stories come to life as the horses begin to seemingly play out those stories. It is powerful for clients to get distance from their stories and watch the horses reflect what is going on in the clients’ internal and external lives. What is especially interesting is how the horses start changing those stories as they move and change behaviors, providing new, surprising and powerful insights.

Clients build relationships with the horses. This could look as diverse as relationship-building does in human terms. It is through this journey of spending time with the horses, getting to know them, caring for them, doing different activities with them, moving or being still, and forming connections in whatever way that may look like, where powerful healing can occur. Relationship struggles, whether relationships with ourselves, others, our environments, or our beliefs and emotions, are usually at the foundation of mental health issues. Horses provide an opportunity to heal those relationships and learn new skills that can support healthier interactions. Many times, clients report that connecting with a horse feels like they’re connecting with themselves. 

Clients engage in activities that parallel life. This may involve leading horses through paths and obstacles, to play out what it looks like to lead others, or aspects of our self, through life. Creating representations of a day at work, home or school in the arena or pasture, and experiencing what the horses and clients do in that scenario, can bring interesting insights and opportunities to work through here-and-now emotions and try new ideas.

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To enquire about EFP services, costs and scheduling, please reach out via email or text/call Brittany Pellegrino. Sessions are held at Rosaire's Riding Academy in Sarasota, FL.

Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy : Services
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