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Hooves and Hearts: Navigating the Path of Psychological Transformation with Equine Partners

Updated: Jan 30



In the heart of central Israel, nestled within the serene landscape of moshav Sitiryya, lies a unique therapeutic haven: Strides to Solutions. This clinical care farm, specializing in equine-assisted therapy, offers a sanctuary where individuals can embark on a journey of healing and self-discovery. The essence of this therapy lies in the profound connection between humans and horses, a bond that facilitates remarkable transformations in mental health and emotional well-being.


Understanding Equine-Assisted Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy is an innovative form of psychotherapy that involves interactions between patients and horses. This therapy is not just about riding; it encompasses a range of activities such as grooming, feeding, leading, and observing horses. These interactions are meticulously guided by a trained therapist, in this case, Linsey Adams-Aharony, holds a Doctor of Psychology and a Certified EMDR Therapist with extensive experience in trauma-informed psychotherapy.


Why Horses?

Horses are majestic creatures known for their sensitivity and intuitive nature. They possess an innate ability to mirror human emotions, making them perfect co-facilitators in therapy. Their large and powerful stature can initially be intimidating, but this very aspect allows individuals to overcome fear and develop confidence. Horses react and respond to people's actions and emotions, providing immediate feedback and opportunities for self-reflection and growth.


Benefits of Equine-Assisted Therapy

  1. Building Emotional Resilience: Interacting with horses requires patience, understanding, and empathy. These interactions help individuals recognize and regulate their emotions, fostering emotional resilience.

  2. Enhancing Self-Efficacy: Learning to communicate and lead a horse empowers individuals, boosting one's belief in one's ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. This newfound confidence often translates into other areas of their lives.

  3. Improving Social Skills: Equine therapy involves non-verbal communication and understanding the horse's responses. This enhances one's ability to read and respond to social cues, improving interpersonal relationships.

  4. Developing Trust and Reducing Anxiety: The process of forming a bond with a horse helps in developing trust. For those struggling with anxiety, the rhythmic motion of riding and the bond with the animal can have a calming effect.

  5. Promoting Mindfulness and Presence: The need to be present and mindful while interacting with horses helps individuals focus on the here and now, reducing stress and promoting mental clarity.

  6. Physical Health Benefits: Riding and caring for horses improve balance, coordination, and physical strength. The outdoor setting also contributes to overall well-being.


A Case for Equine-Assisted Therapy in Mental Health Disorders

Equine-assisted therapy is particularly beneficial for individuals dealing with life transitions, stressful events, emotional distress, and mental health disorders. The therapy offers a non-judgmental space where individuals can explore their feelings and thoughts. For those who find traditional therapy settings challenging, the dynamic and interactive nature of equine therapy can be a refreshing alternative.


The Role of the Therapist

At Strides to Solutions, Esther Adams-Aharony, Psy.D expertise in psychology and passion for animals synergize to create a transformative therapeutic experience. Her role extends beyond facilitating interactions with horses; she provides emotional support, guides self-discovery, and helps translate the learning from the therapy sessions into real-life applications.


A Typical Session at Strides to Solutions

A session at Strides to Solutions is tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual. It may involve grooming the horses, leading them through obstacles, or simply observing their behavior. Each activity is designed to address specific therapeutic goals, whether it's building trust, enhancing communication skills, or fostering self-awareness.


The Therapeutic Environment

The farm itself plays a crucial role in the therapy. The tranquil environment, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, offers a peaceful retreat. The presence of other animals like rabbits, dogs, and chickens adds to the therapeutic experience, making Strides to Solutions a holistic healing environment.


Conclusion

Equine-assisted therapy at Strides to Solutions is more than just a therapeutic approach; it's a journey towards self-discovery and healing. The unique bond between humans and horses opens up new pathways for emotional and psychological growth. This therapy is not just about overcoming challenges; it's about learning, growing, and finding joy in the journey. As we continue to explore and embrace innovative approaches to mental health, equine-assisted therapy stands out as a powerful tool in the quest for emotional well-being and personal growth.

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