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An exciting new branch of therapy with horses is equinefacilitated psychotherapy, along with a related field often called equineassisted activities, or equine experiential learning. These forms of horse therapy don’t often involve much riding. Instead, they focus more on the ways patients learn to relate to the horse as another thinking, feeling creature. Sometimes just taking care of horses—talking to them or grooming and feeding them—has been shown to yield surprising psychological and behavioral benefits. Equinefacilitated psychotherapy is often provided through a team approach. The team will consist of a NARHAcertified riding instructor, a licensed mental health professional, and one or more horses. The patient completes the “team.” Sometimes, this kind of therapy will be offered to groups of patients with similar needs. Other times, it will take the form of individual therapy. Occasionally, the riding instructor and licensed therapist will be the same person—often a professional psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, guidance counselor, or other mental health professional who has a personal interest in and knowledge of horses. At times, the connection between what seem like two vastly different activities—psychology and horseback riding—will come about in the opposite way: A skilled, experienced horseperson with a special interest in human psychology will study to get the credentials needed to provide therapy, with the goal of starting a practice that uses equinefacilitated psychotherapy. Equinefacilitated psychotherapy has been used to help children, adolescents, and adults—anyone who has severe mental problems or who is seeking help for troubling life issues. A lot of clinical evidence suggests that this kind of therapy can help people suffering from many conditions, including depression, low selfesteem, learning disorders, anxiety, attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), substance abuse, eating disorders, brain injury, autism, Tourette’s syndrome, posttraumatic stress disorder, and even diseases such as schizophrenia. Equinefacilitated psychotherapy is always provided by a trained professional.

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