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Nexus is proud to offer.............Healing through CONNECTION  with horses!

Equine Therapy & Equine-Assisted EMDR

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Winston S. Churchill — 'There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.'

Meet the Horses

  

 

 

EAP Therapist & Equine Specialist - Angie Lawhenore, MA, LPC, ACS, EMDR-T, EAP 

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It's All About Connection

Equine therapy allows us to reconnect with ourselves and thus improves our connections with others and allows us to heal.  This journey of discovery and healing is different from 'talk therapy' because, unlike the clinical setting,  the sessions are conducted outside, utilizing the healing effects present in nature.   Also, horses can 'connect' with humans on a level we are not yet fully able to understand - helping us to experience our authentic selves.   Horses provide unique feedback to our unconscious thoughts, which helps us better understand ourselves. 

This ability of horses to connect with humans helps us feel emotions in a supported, unique, and safe space.  As sentient beings, horses connect our body, soul (made up of our mind, will and emotions), and spirit, bringing peace and congruence  (integration) -  perhaps like never felt before.

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What is Equine Therapy?

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP), often referred to as Equine Therapy, is an experiential treatment and healing approach centered around the connection between horses and humans which results in a process that empowers life-changing outcomes.

The horses are left unencumbered to allow them to interact freely with the client. Horses are an equal partner on the team which also includes a Licensed Mental Health Professional and/or Equine Specialist. All the work is done through activities on the ground with no riding involved, and no previous horse experience is necessary.  

Contrary to most forms of talk therapy that can sometimes require many months or even years, the work is generally completed in a few sessions. EAP goes beyond talk therapy by incorporating the authentic connection of horses, which leads to a holistic healing experience within the mind, body and spirit resulting in lasting solutions through lessons that only the horse can teach.  This connection with the equine partner creates the safe space for clients to experiment with new relational patterns, empowering them to experience and build healthier ways of connecting they can then begin to apply to human relationships. Clients discover that their stories naturally begin to shift, resulting in deeply felt, profound and lasting effect in their lives.

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Why Horses??

Horses are natural HEALERS, they can communicate their own emotion and feel empathy, learn to trust, show stress, thrive in open spaces, require social relationships to be healthy, and learn by observation.  They are excellent mirrors of what they experience in the therapy session, making them the perfect healing partner!  Horses are inherently soothing, gentle animals whose presence alone can be healing.

Like people, horses are social beings whose herd dynamics are very similar to the human family system.  Their very survival depends on being keen observers, horses are vigilant and sensitive to movement and emotion. They are socially attuned and sensitive to the most subtle changes in our affect, body language, and our energy. They often mirror a client's behavior or emotions, conveying understanding and connection that allows the client to feel safe. They notice many cues indicative of a person’s emotional state such as breathing rate, heart rate, body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. The way the horses respond in session provides a participant the opportunity to gain insight into their own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Both during the activity and after, the treatment team can observe and interact with the participant in order to identify behavior patterns and process thoughts and emotions. Horses do not judge or interpret, they are just present, fully in the moment, and their reactions and behaviors are straight forward and immediate.

In this space, Participants learn that if they change something about their behavior, the horse(s) respond differently, too.   Participants learn about themselves and their relationship to others by being in relationship to the horse(s), participating in activities with horses, and then by processing their thoughts, feelings, behaviors and patterns.

Horses show us how to live together in harmony. They teach us about acceptance of others and of ourselves.  They are honest and have no hidden agenda, which makes them especially powerful messengers.

DIDYOUKNOW?

The presence of horses helps the nervous system to re-tune and re-balance.  They can literally impact the human heart!

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A study from the HeartMath Institute which demonstrates proof that a human’s heart will sync or entrain to the heart rhythm of a horse’s heart just by being near the horse. This explains why people will report feeling “better” just from being in the presence of horses.

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Yet another study, Italian researcher Paolo Baragli, DVM, PhD from the University of Pisa Department of Veterinary Sciences in Italy, validated that horses and humans tend to align their physiological responses to emotional stimulation.

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Research has also shown that spending time around horses helps to regulate the body’s nervous system.  During equine therapy, endorphins, the body’s feel-good hormone, are released.  This helps to naturally calm an overactive nervous system that is affected by trauma, depression or anxiety.

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Horses have the largest eyes of any mammal on land!

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Horses can hear a human heartbeat from 4 feet away!

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Horses can’t see like we do, they can see yellows and greens pretty well, but they cannot see purple and violet tones.

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Horses co-ordinate their eyes and ears – wherever the horse’s ear is pointing is the direction their eye on the same side is looking. If they are pointing in two different directions, they are actually focusing on two different things simultaneously!

The Power of PRESENCE

HORSES HELP US BECOME CENTERED AND FULLY PRESENT

Our world today is full of distractions and avoidance.  We are often focused on or worried about things of the past or anxious or even excited about what may happen in the future.  Horses help us find and appreciate the peace and respite that is only available by being fully in the moment. A client once said it beautifully, “I find that in the moment I am in control, but I do not have to be controlling. There is such a peace and sense of relief to not feel that pressure, everything is automatically much simpler and easier to manage.” Horses help us integrate and find that sense of being present; in our thoughts, in our bodies, with our emotions, and in our relationships.

Lets also not overlook the obvious! Horses are large animals. Their strength and size can bring up unmet needs, fears, past trauma and feelings of inadequacy or lack of control.  Accomplishing tasks involving horses, in spite of this fear, creates confidence and helps the participants deal with and transfer these experienced lessons to other situations in their day-to-day life. This also allows for clients to maintain a sense of self-awareness, using the horse's behavior and interactions for feedback and opportunities to check in and process what is happening in the moment.

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So what can EAP do for me?

EAP has been shown to be effective in addressing or improving the following:  

 

Anxiety

Depression

PTSD

Panic Attacks

Anger Management & Bullying

Fear

Grief

Verbal and Non-verbal Communication

Assertiveness

Attachment & Abandonment

Co-Dependency

Setting Boundaries

Emotion Regulation and Awareness

Creative Problem Solving

Leadership & Teamwork

Taking Responsibility

Developing and Maintaining Relationships

Confidence

Empathy

Impulse Control

Social Skills

Trust in Others and Trust in Self

Equine Assisted EMDR
(Coming in May, 2024)

What is Equine-Assisted EMDR Therapy (EA-EMDR)?

EA-EMDR combines EAP and EMDR Therapy. Using an experiential approach, EMDR therapy integrates with equine-assisted interactions to become Equine-Assisted EMDR (EA-EMDR).

Through the protocol, clients are offered an experiential approach to EMDR therapy. Equine-Assisted EMDR (EA-EMDR) is still EMDR therapy, but is the integration of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy with EMDR to become EA-EMDR.

Through EA-EMDR, animal-assisted experiences, whether directed or undirected, are readily and actively woven into all eight phases of EMDR therapy and with fidelity to standard protocol. In doing so, the goals of each phase of EMDR therapy can be facilitated intentionally and in partnership with animals(s) while still maintaining EMDR treatment fidelity. A foundational principle of EA-EMDR is that one is “always doing EMDR therapy.” EMDR therapy is a modality, not just an intervention, therefore the focus is on all phases, not solely phase four reprocessing. 

EA-EMDR can be effective in any situation or diagnoses that traditional EMDR can be utilized.

(EMDRIA Approved)

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