Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy
Pony Partnerships offers a unique environment where clients can explore ways to improve their lives. Not everyone finds it easy to relate in a traditional way – the expectations attached to room-based therapy, where we sit face to face, may feel overwhelming to some people. Here at Pony Partnerships, we offer a unique flexibility in the way that we work.
Therapy can be designed to suit the client, rather than expecting the client to fit into the therapy. We have the capacity to work creatively, by building relationships with our therapists, as well as our animal partners, and the outdoor environment in which we are based.
Our therapists work alongside a team of five horses, four sheep, four goats, and a cat to explore different ways of thinking, being, and relating. This supports an increase in the way clients experience and interpret their understanding of what they are doing, and how they are doing it (proprioception, interoception, and neuroception).
The principles that apply to building a relationship with a horse transfer to healthy human relationships. The non-judgemental response of the horse can make it easier for clients to identify how and where these patterns show up with people in their lives, helping support the client to explore relating to other people in different ways. This process can help the client to address and move through past or present damaging life circumstances, understand how those circumstances affect their current interactions, and make the personal changes necessary for healthy, fulfilling relationships in the present and future.
Sessions are client-led with the programme beginning around assessment and allowing the client to explore the site and familiarise themselves with it and the team – we work alongside five horses, four sheep, four goats, and a cat and we encourage clients to build relationships with the whole team and the environment in which we are based.
This approach is structured around 6 pillars of learning (teamwork, responsibility, creativity, resilience, communication, and kindness). Learning outcomes are then set in line with the pillar, with activities including tasks around equine care. These tasks will be explored as a means of learning about self and other, attune to own sensory needs, as well as those of the horses, as well as developing blame free strategies and explanations for behaviours. In order to build relationships with the horses and complete these activities safely, additional social and emotional skills are required. The sessions will therefore be scaffolded around the acquisition of these skills, with the focus being on equine care activities.
Enrichment and engagement are key outcomes. Flexibility of activities will allow for young people to build their window of tolerance for activities that may be new to them and cause anxiety.
What should I wear?
Many of the activities at Pony Partnerships will take place outdoors. The nature of the provision involves working with horses and many other animals so it is important that students wear clothing that is suited to the weather conditions. It may be a good idea to bring additional items of clothing or a change of clothes. There are indoor spaces that can be used should the weather be particularly poor.
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