The therapeutic benefits of equine assisted psychotherapy: what happens in a session?
Equine-assisted psychotherapy – what is it?
Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) for children uses trained horses to enhance a child’s physical, emotional and social wellbeing. There is a unique bond between humans and horses and this has been utilised in these therapy sessions to provide psychological therapy to children and young adults. EAP is considered short-term therapy due to its intensity and effectiveness. The child or young person is able to process and discuss feelings, behaviours and patterns by participating in grounded activities with horses.
What happens in a session?
This can vary depending on the young person’s needs, but the great thing about equine-assisted therapy is that no riding experience is necessary, and in most cases riding the horses won’t be necessary at all. Generally, in an EAP session, various exercises will be set up to help the young person think and act in ways they may not have thought of before. This will include some form of interaction with the horse; leading the horse over a series of obstacles, leading it in a certain direction, perhaps without the aid of a rope. After completing the exercises, a trained therapist will ask the child or young person about their experience, discussing their feelings in a way that can lead them to learn more about themselves and their behaviours. EAP has been found to address a variety of issues relevant to children and young people who have suffered trauma, including behavioural problems, attention deficit disorder (ADD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, relationship problems and communication difficulties.
The Wishing Well foundation
The Wishing Well was established in 2010 to offer children in out-of-home care, such as foster care and residential care, a range of healing and treatment options usually not accessible as a free therapy in mainstream health.
The Wishing Well raises funds to enable children and young people to access developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments shown to be highly effective in dealing with severe trauma and neglect. These therapies respond to the unique needs of each child and young person.
The Wishing Well is a not-for-profit incorporated charity organisation, established and managed by people seeking to improve outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care and their families. The Wishing Well recognises the importance of the act of giving. We recognise the significance of the participation of community members and all donations are most appreciated.
The Wishing Well operates ethically, effectively and empathically with a view to achieving quality outcomes and a satisfying working environment.
Support the Wishing Well
The Wishing Well uses its funds to help children in need access all manners of developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments. The Wishing Well takes referrals for any child/young person in out-of-home care in NSW. Applications are assessed by qualified personnel and on a case-by-case basis. The decision to fund an application is affected by the following:
- Funding availability
- The support the child/young person has to access the proposed therapies
- The capacity and willingness of the Carer Household to support the child/young person
- Assessment, which recommends and supports the proposed therapy as relevant to meeting the particular needs of the child/young person
The Wishing Well gratefully receives donations, funding and resources through bequests, corporate partnerships, fundraising events, grants, online donations and other fund raising activities. Money donated to The Wishing Well enables traumatised children access to healing therapies. Please see our website for more information: