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Equine Assisted Psychotherapy:
Straight Talk from the Horse's Mouth

9 CE Credits/Hours - Online Course - $79.00

Co-Developed by Diana Poulson, M.A., MFT & Sage de Beixedon Breslin, Ph.D.

This course is also offered as part of an Animal Assisted Therapy Certificate Program of 18 CE Credits.

This course includes materials consisting of:

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General Course Description

Animals assisting people, or what has been also called Animal Assisted Psychotherapy, is not a new concept. Although the documentation of animals as partners in therapy spans the19th through 21st centuries, this approach has become increasingly more popular in the past 20 years. The therapy and the research on Equine Assisted therapy may be in the early stages but the outcomes are encouraging.

Research has shown us that interacting with animals can improve mental health by reducing loneliness and increasing meaning in a person's life. We have also seen how caring for and touching animals can reduce stress and even lower blood pressure. The Veteran's Administration is even supporting this form of intervention for physically disabled veterans as well as for those with PTSD.

Equine-assisted psychotherapy is currently being used with the following populations: combat veterans, autistics, at-risk youth, victims of violence and abuse, and those with mood and mental disorders (e.g. Anxiety Disorders, Psychotic Disorders, Mood Disorders, Behavioral Difficulties, Schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Receptive or Expressive Language Disorders, Personality Disorders, and Depression). Through specially designed exercises and experiences both on horseback and on the ground, these therapies support healing and growth through improving self-esteem and self-awareness, developing trust in a safe environment, providing social skills training, encouraging sensory stimulation and integration, combining body awareness exercises with motor planning and verbal communication, developing choice-making and goal-setting skills, developing sequencing and problem-solving skills, encouraging responsibility, and promoting pro-social attitudes through care-giving experiences.

In this introductory course, you will view one short video and read three articles. The video sets the stage for moving outside of the office and into the arena. The articles define and describe the approach, the terminology associated with, and the differences in therapy from practitioner to practitioner and from country to country. Various exercises are reviewed, as are the legal and ethical considerations in working outside of the traditional office setting. Finally, the course offers online resources and important references.

Should you desire to continue your education about the uses of Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy, please review our course, Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy: Special Applications, which reviews special applications to the field of trauma, including but not limited to combat, physical, and sexual trauma

Disclaimer: This course is purely educational and does not intend to serve as a license (or permission) to mental health professionals to prescribe or practice any of the approaches discussed in this course unless they fall within the scope of practice of your profession. Check with your licensing board about the scope of practice of your profession to make sure you practice within that scope.

Educational Objectives

This course will teach psychotherapists to:

1.    Describe the growing field of equine therapies.

2.    Differentiate among the many types of equine therapies currently available.

3.    Describe examples of common equine therapy exercises.

4.    Summarize how horses can become active partners in assisting clients through difficulties.

5.    Explain equine therapies from a historical context.

6.    Review early research being done in the field.

7.    Specify what further research needs to be conducted.

8.    larify legal and ethical issues of conducting therapy outside of the traditional office.

9.    Recommend the potential directions of growth in the field.

Course Syllabus

  • Animal and Equine Assisted/Facilitated Psychotherapies Defined and Described
  • The Current State of Affairs for Equine Assisted/Facilitated Psychotherapy
  • Overview of Early Research
  • Research Questions to Consider
  • Example of an Open Clinical Trial
  • Example of an Equine Assisted Psychotherapy Exercise
  • Legal, Ethical and Standard of Care Issues when Conducting Out-of-Office Therapy
  • Summary and Suggestion
  • References & Resources
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