Medically Reviewed by Libby Smith PhD
Table of Contents:
Benefits of Equine Therapy
Horses and people have developed an exceptionally symbiotic relationship over centuries of human and equine interaction. Owners and aficionados alike often express deeply valued benefits from spending time “at the barn,” citing some surprising and perhaps unexpected perks. Is it any wonder, then, that equine therapy is an effective therapeutic tool?
~ Winston Churchill
Equine-Assisted Therapy with “Dr. Libby”
My name is Dr. Libby Smith and I am fortunate to be the therapist at Alternative to Meds Center (ATMC) and work with the clients at our center.
Of the many alternative modalities at ATMC, Equine-Assisted Therapy is a program we offer clients. Our participants have an opportunity to partner and play with horses one or more times during the duration of their stay. I have been involved in Equine-Assisted Wellness for ten years. I am CEO and owner of Wind Horse Wellness LLC. I served as Co-Chair of The Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals and held certification as an Equine Interaction Professional. I also hold a “Safety Award” for diligence and attention to the safety of horses and humans.
Today, many are seeing the value in horses beyond their involvement on ranches, in rodeos, and equestrian competitions. Horses are now being employed as teachers, coaches, and even therapists. One of the reasons for this shift in perception is because of the horse’s ability to serve as quintessential mirrors showing us our basic and core beliefs, ideas, and thoughts about ourselves and the world in which we live. Without a doubt, I believe that horses effect genuine transformation regarding ourselves, our relationships, and our environments.
At ATMC we offer evidenced-based treatment modalities and within the Equine arena, the therapy of choice is Gestalt Equine Psychotherapy (GEP). Let’s explore this amazing modality a bit deeper as we enter a world where horses and humans create undeniably powerful and lasting connections.
Gestalt therapy is grounded in existential and humanistic approaches to the human experience (Murdock, 2013). Research in successful treatment modalities supports Gestalt Therapy (GT) as a solid approach to psychotherapy (Murdock, 2013). It is experiential in its design as we experience the world through myriad ways, and therefore create our own realities. Gestalt Therapy explores feelings, cultural background, gender, desires, wants and needs, memories, beliefs, and feelings (Kirby, 2010). Transformation, awareness of the present moment, and the meanings we give our experiences are all profound components of GT.
The focus of this therapeutic modality is on the physical symptoms expressed by clients and explores the relationship between the mind and body in an effort to view the client from both a present and a holistic perspective (Kirby, 2010). Gestalt Therapy is used for a plethora of conditions. Anxiety, sleep disorders, social isolation, depression, and loss of appetite are just a few of the challenges that are treated with GT (Yontef, 2002).