Meet the ChangeWays Team who provide equine assisted therapy in Cumbria.
Feedback from parents
“Having watched a TV programme about Equine Assisted Psychotherapy I made contact with Coral. My 11 year old daughter was becoming increasingly violent and aggressive and I was desperate to help her.
After a few sessions we began to notice a change in her moods, she was more able to control herself. We have moved on and are now in a longer term contract for more in-depth work.
I don’t know how or why this treatment works but I do know that for us as a family it has given us a lifeline and we are moving forward to a much better place, with a happier little girl.”
Client’s experience of equine assisted therapy
When I worked with the ChangeWays team and two horses in an indoor arena I had an experience that helped change my life. As I got to know the horses, I noticed that one of them often retreated to the back corner of the arena.
I was asked to create something that representing the challenges I was facing in my life. I was feeling stuck and unsure of which path to take. Do I stay with the safe job and predictable life that was so boring? Do I follow my dreams and what I love to do for much less money?
I created two spaces in the arena using hoops, poles and a variety of equipment, one was like a roadblock and the other was a narrow path. I was asked by the team to move the horses through these two spaces. This felt like an impossible task and pretty similar to how I was feeling right now in my life.
After talking to the horses and trying to coax them from different positions around the arena, the black horse backed himself into the corner once again and started to kick a plastic bucket that happened to be there. I remember feeling a bit hopeless and not sure what to do. After some time I was asked what was happening out there, and I said, “The horse is frustrated”.
I hadn’t identified before that frustration was a big part of my life, watching the black horse I could see myself. I thought about this for a few moments and realised I could make a difference by not giving up. As soon as I said this out loud, the black horse walked out of the corner, came over and stood with me.
Just by saying those words the horse had picked up on a change in my energy and helped me recognise something about my frustrations that I hadn’t been consciously aware of before. By realising that I had been giving up, I now have the option not to give up. The horse standing with me was also an important part of the experience for me.
It gave me the sense that I was not on my own. My experience of EAP has been powerful and given me courage to make changes in my life.
“Because of their size, innate and acute sensitive, and non-verbal nature, horse have a unique appeal helping clients of all ages become more engaged in the psychotherapy process. This form of therapy is especially helpful for children and their families as the horses provide an emotionally safe way to project the strong and difficult feelings stemming from trauma and loss.
Trauma is held in the body both physically and emotionally and the horses help healing occur in both these critical areas.”
Lynn Thomas, LCSW, Founder & CEO of Eagala
Statistical Data supporting Equine Assisted Therapy
There is a growing body of evidence for EAGALA Model mental health and person development services incorporating horses. The EAGALA website includes a research summary of articles that have been published in peer-reviewed journals www.eagala.org/research
Research found significant improvements in psychological distress and functioning for adolescents who had experienced sexual abuse and trauma.
Study investigated Eagala intervention for children who had experienced intro-family violence resulting in mental health and behavioural issues. Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scores improved from pretest to post-test; and improvements were positively correlated with the number of Eagala sessions.
Compassion Fatigue in Caring professionals
Eagala Model intervention to treat compassion fatigue in community care professionals. Results showed significant decreases in compassion fatigue and burnout and increases in compassion satisfaction at post test. Emotion awareness and management also increased significantly.