EAGALA was founded in 1991 and now has over 600 EAGALA programs with trained and certified professionals. It is a nonprofit organization for professionals who work with their clients using Equine Assisted Therapy to address issues such as mental health, addiction recovery and human development needs.
The EAGALA model doesn’t involve any riding as sessions are ground based, allowing the horse to be themselves, and to respond to non-verbal signals from the client. This provides the client the opportunity for growth and learning, with these naturally intimidating large animals, helping them to develop confidence and face their fears.
Equine Assisted Therapy is an alternative approach to dealing with any trauma or ongoing behavior or therapeutic issues. It is also one of the most cutting edge treatments used to treat chemically dependent individuals, who are in recovery. A certified EAGALA Therapist can assist clients to learn more about themselves and others through the horse’s responses, in connection with the clients’ own feelings and behavior patterns.
There is more of a spiritual element to Equine therapy than one would think. The relationship between the client and the horses can bring to the surface buried blockages in extraordinary breakthroughs. Clients find it a safe and healing environment where they can show their vulnerability.
The most simplistic way to explain how Equine Assisted Therapy works is to think of the horse as the clients’ “child”. The lesson is learning how to get the child to “listen”. This might be represented by getting the horse over some obstacle. Until the client becomes more confident in their non-verbal messages, as a parent, the horse, (child) will not respond, so they need to learn new tools. The sessions are goal oriented and parallel any issues the client wants to address.
Many Health professionals have known for years, what every pet owner already knows: that pets can be beneficial to our health and well-being. Companion pets are being introduced into nursing homes, hospitals, prisons and rehabilitation centers and are proving to be helpful for depression, anxiety, and other behavior problems.
The animal assisted therapy programs involve the use of animals by a trained therapist who has developed goals for their client, with a plan for how the particular animal of choice fits into achieving these goals. There are three key pro-social competencies built around the programs and that is: trust, empathy and mastery. These are the elements for healing, particularly in damaged and at-risk children.
The animals are like counselors with fur. They provide comfort and unconditional love, expecting nothing back. They don’t judge or talk back, and they can provide a platform for somebody who is going through a difficult time, to express their hurts without any judgement.
Although Equine Assisted Therapy and Animal Assisted Therapy are relatively new treatments, it has now been well documents as being beneficial to so many people with special needs.