Our Model

(Much of this information is shared with permission from the developers of our model at Natural Lifemanship™)

Horses aren’t just mirrors. . .
Utilization of Natural Horsemanship
Ground Work
Safety in this model
How does it compare to other models?

What Models of Therapy do you offer?

At Adirondack EAP, our therapists offer a robust, eclectic mix of therapy models including, but not limited to, Somatic Experiencing, play therapy, motivational interviewing, Internal Family Systems, Cognitive Behavioral therapy, Strengths-Based therapy, Solution-focused therapy, and much more! We greatly value and prioritize the relationship between the therapist, the client, and the client’s family. Each of our on-site clinicians is trained in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy as developed by Natural Lifemanship. Please note that clients will engage with their therapist for multiple sessions prior to the therapist considering adding one-on-one horse sessions into the treatment plan. Office-based sessions and walk-and-talk sessions on the farm are highly therapeutic and are mandatory prior to any consideration of horse interaction. This is to allow the clients and their therapist to develop a strong relationship before incorporating another relationship with the horse into sessions.

What is Equine Assisted Psychotherapy?

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is provided by a licensed therapist with the assistance of horses. EAP engages the client to improve their ability to function in their everyday lives through real-life, real-time interactions with the horse and therapist.

EAP addresses many mental health concerns including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, relationship issues, domestic violence, trauma-related symptoms (difficulty sleeping, difficulty focusing, intrusive thoughts, mood swings, etc), eating disorders, substance abuse and attachment issues.

Horses aren’t just mirrors. . .

The primary reason we use horses for therapy is because a horse will react or respond to a person’s behavior in much the same way that another person will. This is the dynamic that sets the use of horses apart from the use of other animals. A dog, for example, does not respond to our behaviors the way our friends, spouse, employees, employer, or family members will respond. A dog will ultimately demonstrate acceptance regardless of the client’s actions. It is this type of unconditional acceptance that makes dogs and other animals beneficial in many therapeutic settings. Horses are more honest in their responses, which allow the client to take responsibility for the relationship they build with a horse. A horse will not give love and acceptance until the client learns to build a relationship that fosters love and acceptance, the same way they must do in human relationships.

It is human nature to become comfortable with the familiar. Therefore, when building a relationship with a horse, clients re-create the familiar patterns of interaction they have learned throughout their lives. Most clients inadvertently choose a horse that will treat them the way they’re used to being treated or that they believe they can treat in the same manner they treat other people. If they don’t or can’t choose this type of horse, the client will eventually create this type of horse. The horse will help them understand how their thoughts, feelings, and behavior affect the relationship. Horses are able to do this because they live in the present. A horse responds honestly to what the client is doing in the present, rather than what they did in the past or what they may do in the future. A typical human’s response is tied to the past, present, and future which is not conducive to honest, immediate feedback. Once clients understand the things in the relationship for which they are responsible, they can make changes in themselves to improve the relationship with the horse, and then apply those same changes to more complex human interactions. Back to the Top

Utilization of Natural Horsemanship

Adirondack Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, LCSW, utilizes Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy as developed by Tim and Bettina Jobe of Natural Lifemanship ™.  The aspects of natural horsemanship are derived from sound principles of equine psychology. If the principle behind a natural horsemanship technique cannot effectively operate in the psychology of people, it is not a method employed at AEAP. There are many effective horse training techniques. AEAP specifically adheres to a model of applied horse psychology that uses only principles that seamlessly transfer to human psychology. Historically, horses have been taught to do the right thing because they were afraid not to. Training techniques were based on fear and intimidation. Our goal is to use humane, psychological techniques to teach horses to do the right thing because they have come to believe that it is the right thing to do, whether from the ground or mounted. The principles used to teach this are applicable in a wide variety of human interactions. The changes people must make within themselves to be able to apply these principles also transfer to many life situations. Back to the Top

Ground Work

Ground work is where any healthy relationship begins. If one hasn’t laid the “ground work” for a relationship based on honesty, trust, respect, and understanding then the relationship is being set up for ultimate failure. If the foundation is not built correctly, each subsequent stage of the relationship will suffer. Setting the “ground work” allows the relationship to be build sequentially. This is easily demonstrated, understood, and practiced in a relationship with a horse. For instance, touching a horse before the horse has asked you to touch it will damage rather than strengthen the relationship. The damaging results may not be felt immediately, but as the relationship progresses, a lack of trust and respect will develop. Developing a relationship on the ground allows the client to experience the effects of how they have built the relationship. The most poignant work occurs on the ground as the relationship moves toward greater intimacy. Back to the Top

Safety is Central to the Process

(Shared with permission: This was written by Tim and Bettina Jobe of Natural Lifemanship™ in conjunction with Kim Mills, MA, NCC, LPC from Rocky Top Therapy Center and Horses for Heroes™)

In Natural Lifemanship one of the most important interventions we use is helping the client find safety in every situation. The safety the client finds with the horse during sessions is eventually transferred to other life situations with the help of the facilitators or the therapeutic team. This can evidence itself as physical and/or emotional safety. It is imperative that the client is allowed to find their own safety rather than having safety rules dictated and enforced. Safety in these sessions looks very different than safety in traditional horsemanship or therapeutic riding where the goals and desired outcomes are different.

It is imperative for stabilization, growth, and healing that the client learns to take full responsibility for their own physical and emotional safety and the choices that they make. It is through this process that they are also able to let go of a false sense of safety and control, and begin to embrace an authentic sense of safety and security.

In Natural Lifemanship the team does not dictate or enforce hard and fast rules. Choosing to indiscriminately not trust someone because of the possibility of getting hurt is damaging when transferred to other situations and relationships. In the same vein, not understanding the possibilities and making informed decisions can also be damaging. Many clients need to regain trust in themselves to make the appropriate decisions about their safety and the safety of others. In a relationship based on trust, respect, and understanding there is no place for hard and fast arbitrary rules. The foundation of this work is built on the relationship between the client and their horse. The principles that make this relationship healthy, will work to make all of life’s relationships healthy. Back to the Top

How does it compare to other models

The increased need for effective interventions and the difficulty of working with various populations in the mental health field have resulted in the design of many non-traditional approaches to therapy such as various experiential therapies, animal-assisted therapy, numerous expressive therapies, wilderness therapy, and adventure-based therapy. One intervention that has arisen out of this need is equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP). EAP is a generic term that involves partnering with horses or other equine to facilitate sessions for clients with a variety of mental health concerns. EAP is an emerging therapeutic intervention used in a variety of mental health settings as the primary therapeutic modality or as an adjunct to traditional, office-based therapy. As a result, numerous organizations have begun to train and certify Mental Health professionals and Equine Professionals in the use of EAP.

Natural Lifemanship for the mental health field is an eclectic and comprehensive model of EAP that builds upon and deepens the principles, theories, and practices of many of those organizations, such as The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), the Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association (EFMHA), and the Equine Guided Education Association (EGEA). The founders of Natural Lifemanship have extensive knowledge of and experience in each of the previously mentioned models. As a result, their model is not exclusive of any, but inclusive of all. Natural Lifemanship for the mental health field expands on the various EAP models by incorporating sound principles of horse psychology and a focus on the client’s developing relationship with the horse. Natural Lifemanship facilitates a process whereby clients are able 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.Back to the Top