I am so excited to announce that I am now officially an EAGALA Certified Equine Specialist! It has been a dream in the making for quite some time but this past year things started to fall into place (through lots of hard work) for this dream to come true. As you may remember from one of my previous posts, we will be starting a new minor this coming fall at Wesleyan College in Equine Assisted Therapy. This new minor will pair up with our psychology department to allow students to explore this exciting therapy tool and hopefully add it to their toolboxes when they graduate. You can click here to see my recent interview with our local news channel discussing the new minor and our newest Wesleyan Equestrian addition.
So you may be wondering “What in the world is EAGALA?”
EAGALA stands for Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association and serves as a model and certifying association for equine assisted psychotherapy practitioners worldwide. The EAGALA model consists of a licensed mental health specialist, an equine specialist and a horse(s) all working together as part of a therapy team. All EAGALA sessions are conducted on the ground versus on the horses’ backs. Another important key to EAGALA sessions is that they are client solution focused, this means that the therapy team does not provide answers or solutions to a client’s problems. Rather the team allows the client to explore options as they see fit to find the solution that works best for them.
So who benefits from equine assisted therapy?
A wide range of populations have experienced the benefits of equine assisted therapies. Most notably in recent years has been the work with veterans returning from deployment. However, this type of therapy is also very helpful when working with children, families, addictions, eating disorders…the list goes on and on. What I find to be the most beneficial about this type of therapy is that the horses act as a mirror to the clients’ stories. We as humans attach stories to things and events, historically it is how we have explained things to each other and passed down histories, so by human nature we want to attach stories to the horses in the arena. Many times the stories that start to play out in the arena give clues to what our clients may need or what they may be holding onto in life…and watching a client discover that through the horses is simply something you cannot put into words.
Many corporate associations have discovered the team building benefits of working with the EAGALA model and have been utilizing equine assisted activities/learning as part of their staff training. In fact this summer I am excited to share the model with several different groups on campus to work on leadership skills and team building. For team building sessions the focus goes more towards working on a specified goal which is often discussed prior to the session. The EAGALA team will then set up an activity for the group to work through that involves the horses.
This has been a very quick overview of the EAGALA model but you can find all kinds of amazing information on their website! I am so excited to get to be a part of this amazing organization and the work that they are doing everyday. I am also so excited to share this work with my students here at Wesleyan. I look forward to sharing lots of updates with y’all as the program moves forward this fall!
The amazing group of people that I got to do my EAGALA Fundamentals training with this May in Carlisle, PA.