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Types of Equine Therapy

Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy

Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy – EFP – is a type of experiential psychotherapy built around interactions with horses. EFP can be used to assist people with mental and emotional difficulties, including anxiety and mood disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), behavioral challenges, or undergoing life transitions or losses. Therapy must be applied by a provider who is trained and licensed (by their state) to practice psychotherapy or counseling. The therapist should have additional training and experience in facilitating EFP; often sessions are facilitated jointly by a trained therapist and an equine specialist especially when working with more than one client at a time. Therapists and counselors who incorporate EFP may work with individuals, families or groups in the equine environment, with a herd of horses or an individual horse. They may specialize in youth or adult clients or in a particular issue such as substance abuse treatment or trauma. The horse gives feedback to the client, therapist and others involved in the session. The horse is respected as a partner in the treatment session. Most therapists will integrate EFP with other therapeutic techniques that help clients integrate and extend what they experience. Therapists who utilize EFP should be willing to discuss with you their credentials, experience and how EFP is integrated into their practice of psychotherapy. Also known as: Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Equine-Facilitated Mental Health, Equine Assisted Counseling. Some people just call it ‘therapy with horses’!

Equine-Facilitated Learning

Equine-Facilitated Learning – EFL – is a term covering a wide array of social and emotional learning activities organized around horse experiences. EFL facilitators may be experienced educators , business consultants, personal coaches or certified in alternative health fields. Practitioners of EFL are not regulated or licensed; consumers should ask about the EFL practitioner’s background and qualifications. EFL may contribute to positive outcomes for a client although the activity itself is not therapy. Many EFL programs are designed for youth. Such programs help troubled or at-risk young people to build resilience and healthy ego strength. EFL allows an experiential and behavioral approach to teaching abstract concepts such as boundaries, teamwork and cooperation. EFL helps improve cognitive functioning such as organizing behavior and strategizing to accomplish goals. In most youth programs riding activities are combined with ground work, emphasizing partnership-based horsemanship. EFL can be used effectively for adults in leadership training and corporate team building for businesses. Usually riding is not utilized and instead ground exercises that involve congruence of non-verbal communication, ability to balance focus on a goal with focus on the team. Some EFL practitioners emphasize transpersonal experiences, from animal communication to shamanism; some emphasize self-awareness and the teaching of mindfulness skills as resilience and recovery factors to those at risk of poor choices or simply high stress. Also known as: Equine-Facilitated Experiential Learning, Equine-Facilitated Personal Growth, Equine Assisted Coaching, Equine Assisted Personal Development.


Hippotherapy is a form of physical, occupational or speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded motor and sensory input. Hippotherapy must be prescribed and provided by a trained and licensed physical, occupational or speech and language therapist. The foundation of sensorimotor integration established in hippotherapy can improve neurological function and sensory processing, which can be generalized to a wide range of daily activities. The movement of the horse is a means to a treatment goal when utilizing hippotherapy as a treatment strategy. Also known as: Equine Assisted Physical Therapy

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