Kim Jones Therapy
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is experiential in nature. This means that clients learn about themselves by participating in activities with horses, then processing their feelings, behaviors and thoughts. It involves a collaborative treatment team, consisting of a therapist, a horse professional and their horse partners. EAP can somewhat be compared to the ropes course programs used by therapists, treatment facilities and human development programs. However, horses are utilized due to their innate perceptive abilities. Horses by nature are honest and direct, which facilitates the “in the moment” reflective feedback to clients.
EAP has become more recognized and accepted as a viable and effective treatment modality. The here and now experience of presenting symptoms provides a prime clinical opportunity for effective interventions. EAP can be a stand-alone treatment intervention or as an augment to traditional “in-the office” therapy. It has been used for individual, joint and group therapy purposes. EAP can be used to address a wide range of therapeutic needs, including behavioral issues, attachment and nurturing issues, boundaries, empathy, substance abuse, eating disorders, abuse/trauma issues, depression, anxiety, self esteem, relationship problems, communication skills and parenting skills.
Many people are familiar with the therapeutic use of horses related to clients with developmental or other types of special needs. EAP differs from these programs as it is not riding or horsemanship. The focus of EAP involves setting up activities utilizing the horses to allow clinical issues to get played out. After an activity is completed, the client(s), therapist and horse professional discuss the activity. It is through this discussion, which facilitates the client’s emotional, cognitive and behavioral shifts.
Growing up, I had two horses and I learned the benefit of the connection with them. When I became a therapist, I desired to find a way to incorporate my love for and the awareness of the healing power horses can have, with my work as a therapist. I found that blend with EAP and then I learned about Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). This is the treatment model under which myself and my teammate Antonette (Toni) Garcia, Associate Social Work, Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor II and Horse Specialist are trained and certified under.
I am so privileged to work with Toni. She is the “human mother” of the herd of 7 horses, all with different personalities and stories, which are our equine partners. We have found, depending upon needs and logistics, some clients benefit solely from EAP sessions and others from a blend of in-the-office as well as EAP sessions. Our sessions take place at a private residence in Pilot Hill. All EAP work is private pay.
EAGALA is the leading organization promoting EAP as a treatment modality. EAGALA was founded in 1999, and is a non-profit 501(c) (3) organization developed to address the need for resources, education and professionalism in the field of EAP. It has established standards of training and certification criteria for both the mental health professional and the horse professional of the EAP team. EAGALA is established both in the US and abroad with over 4,000 members and located in 49 countries. Several research papers have been completed on the use of EAP and treatment effectiveness/outcomes. For more information please see www.eagala.org.