Expanding the Adventure with Groundwork Therapy

Kylie Peters, Pheobe

Session type: Regular forum session

Key words: Equine Therapy, Horses, Adventure, Experiential

Abstract

“Put horses and humans together. Miracles will happen. Lives can be altered. I know it happened to me” (Nilson, 2004). Horses have the uncanny ability to mirror our emotions back to us. If we are to be in the same space as a horse, we have to be honest with ourselves, learn to trust ourselves, and take responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings, experiences and perceptions. To work with a horse you learn that every action has reaction and consequence, even the smallest ones. You learn how to communicate with respect and empathy in a non-judgmental, non-confrontational way, which then becomes transferable to the human world. You learn to create healthy respectful boundaries for yourself and recognize them in another. You learn to live in the present, look to the future and let go of the past.

They (horses) seem to possess several of the characteristics that Carl Rogers (1989) described as being so important to the therapeutic relationship: unconditional positive regard and warmth. Direct and immediate feedback can be provided in reaction to human action (Rothe et al, 2005; Barjker 1999). To work with a horse you learn that every action has reaction and consequence, even the smallest ones. A horse is not a peer, there is no competition, expectation or judgment from them. Horses provide unconditional acceptance. They are considered sentient beings (Rector, 1992; Kohanov, 2003; Rosenberg, 2006) according to Sherill (2009) “sentient being is one who is capable of feeling and perception, who is capable of responding emotionally rather the intellectually”. You learn how to communicate with respect and empathy in a non-judgmental, non-confrontational way, which then becomes transferable to the human world. Equine assisted therapy can reach clients in a way that traditional talk therapy cannot (Christian, 2005).