What is EAP and EAL?
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) incorporates horses experientially for mental and behavioral health therapy and personal development. It is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional working with the clients and horses to address treatment goals.
EAP is experiential in nature. This means that participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then processing (or discussing) feelings, behaviors, and patterns.
Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) is similar to EAP but where the focus is on learning or educational goals. Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) refers to activities done with horses geared toward experiential learning. Equine assisted learning or equine facilitated experiential learning activities can be offered to individuals or groups.
Learning activities can be used to reengage students in academic learning as well as with high risk adolescents in alternative school programs. Typically, the clients participate in an activity with the horses on the ground, and the trained facilitator guides the learning process. Rather than focusing on personal issues, the focus is on concepts and principles, and solution focused problem solving for example.
The focus of EAP/EAL is not riding or horsemanship. The focus of EAP/EAL involves setting up ground activities involving the horses which will require the client or group to apply certain skills. Non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking and problem-solving, leadership, work, taking responsibility, teamwork and relationships, confidence, and attitude are several examples of the tools utilized and developed by EAP/EAL.