Horses Helping People:
What is the therapeutic purpose of interacting with horses?
Equine or horse assisted therapy is used to expand on emotional growth and learning. Horses, along with a therapist and a horse specialist, are used as tools toward increased self awareness.
Here at Smoky Mountain Lodge we use a model of equine assisted learning called EAGALA, which stands for Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. According to this model, “horses have many characteristics which lend them to being effective agents of change, including honesty, awareness, and ability with nonverbal communication.” This honesty within the horses makes them very powerful messengers because horses naturally mirror the behavior of those with whom they are interacting.
Another benefit of using horses in therapy is that the therapy becomes experiential. Experiential learning is the process of making meaning from direct experience. Aristotle once said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Essentially, a key part of learning is by doing.
Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge is a Tennessee-based adult residential treatment center that offers in-patient care for diagnoses such as bipolar syndrome, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and asperger syndrome. We offer mental health treatment and life skill training through our social integration model, which includes outdoor recreational activities at the nearby National Park. Click here to learn more about our equine therapy and riding program.