Frequently Asked Questions
Equine Assisted Personal Development is experiential in design where preconceived learning goals can be experienced.
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is a psychological treatment form that combines concepts deriving from Psycho-analysis and Gestalt therapy with experiences and experiential learning.
Both approaches incorporate the EAGALA model. In both participants are invited to participate in activities that involve interactions with horses. Both offer the opportunity for participants to acquire and practice new abilities.
Nonverbal communication, creativity, problem solving skills, the ability to assume responsibility, leadership skills, work ethics, cooperation and relational skills as well as self esteem are just some examples of skill sets that can be acquired, practiced or developed through equine assisted experiences.
- What is "experiential learning"?
- What does an equine assisted process look like?
- Why are horses part of the process?
- What part do the horses take on during the process?
- What does "metaphoric learning" mean?
What is "experiential learning"?
Incorporating horses into the learning and developmental process transforms the typical process into an experiential one. Participants get to participate and execute certain activities. By processing some of those activities in a follow up conversation, during which observable behaviors and events are brought up, participants have the opportunity to learn much about their thought processes, internal convictions, actions and typical behavioral patterns.
What does the Equine Assisted process look like (according to the US Association for Experiential Learning)?
Experiential learning occurs when carefully chosen experiences are supported by reflection, critical analysis and synthesis.
Experiences are structured to require the learner to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results.
Throughout the experiential learning process, the participant is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning.
Participants are engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, soulfully and/or physically. This involvement produces a perception that the learning task is authentic.
The results of the learning are personal and form the basis for future experience and learning.
Relationships are developed and nurtured: learner to self, learner to others and learner to the world at large.
The facilitator and participant may experience success, failure, adventure, risk-taking and uncertainty, because the outcomes of experience cannot totally be predicted.
Opportunities are nurtured for participants and facilitators to explore and examine their own values.
The facilitator 's primary roles include setting suitable experiences, posing problems, setting boundaries, supporting learners, insuring physical and emotional safety, and facilitating the learning process.
The facilitator recognizes and encourages spontaneous opportunities for learning.
Facilitators strive to be aware of their biases, judgments and pre-conceptions, and how these influence the learner.
The design of the learning experience includes the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes and successes.
Why are horses part of the process?
Horses can have a strong and big impact on human beings. Whether it is the building of a relationship, training a horse or taking care of one – all those activities can influence the person involved in them. The cooperation between humans and horses enables a developmental and learning process in a natural way.
Horses are similar to humans. They are social animals. They have clearly defined roles within their groups and herds. They typically search for contact to others like them. They have distinct personalities and at times mood swings. One method that works with one horse may not work with another one. At times they may appear stubborn and uncooperative. Their sheer size may be intimidating to some people. Engaging in activities with horses and, for example, overcoming those obstacles can provide room to expand self esteem, which in turn may be transferred to everyday life. In other words: interactions with horses offer great opportunities for metaphorical learning.
What part do the horses take on during the process?
Horses are able to react to human body and nonverbal language cues. By having partipants create true to life scenarios, the probability increases that used materials are emotionally connotated and charged, which shows itself in participants' body language. Horses react to those cues. Their reactions are documented according to patented observational categories and presented back to participants, who may interpret or label those reactions. Horses therefore can become symbol carriers and potential metaphors. Participants are able to practice and experience various aspects of interest in an emotionally safe environment.
Therefore horses are an integral part of our work.
What does "metaphoric learning" mean?
Metaphor (greek, "to carry over, translate, transport") is a rhetorical figure or figurative picture in which a word is not used in its literal but instead symbolic meaning. Typically there are some similarities between the original word and its metaphorical countenance.
In the field of psychology a metaphor is a description of an object in words that fit another object. It is a simple verbal, culturally influenced cognitive concept in which the realm of human experiences is structured, interpreted and communicated.
In equine assisted work metaphors are in part employed to label the horses's functions. A horse can therefore at times become symbolically a conflict that needs to be dealt with. The horses can become symbolic team mates who need to be motivated to overcome challenges.
The applicability is sheer endless and new behaviors and insights are easily transferred to everyday life.
Are references proof of success? Or do they rather serve as evaluation or easing of underlying concerns? Or do they serve to heighten one's own image?
Client comments and coaching references will not be published by me. Confidentiality is important and is an absolute prerequisite for emotional safety.
At this time it is important to note: the people depicted on posted pictures are volunteers and training participants who have experienced equine assisted work and were trained in working with the model. The photos are copyrighted and were used only with explicit permission of all persons shown in them.