Based on over a decade of sustained longitudinal research with a broad range of different user groups, Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Coaching: An Evidence-Based Framework is an essential guide which offers both theoretical foundations and practical models for working with horses in psychotherapy and coaching.
While not a panacea for distress and difficulties, the connections that humans find with horses can become a catalyst for deeper self-knowledge. By de-centring the human subject and placing the horse in the middle of the investigation, the ways in which humans make sense of themselves can be explored and more easily understood. Drawing on this wide spectrum of different client groups, the book features intervention studies with expelled teenagers, adults in addiction recovery programmes, children diagnosed on the autistic spectrum, people suffering from trauma and mental health problems, prisoners and even multi-national corporations wanting culture change. The practice of using horses in a psychological intervention is thoroughly scrutinised throughout, with ways of establishing successful change documented and assessed.
Liefooghe’s analysis of these studies builds up to provide a comprehensive, evidence-based framework for equine-assisted psychotherapy and coaching. This essential book offers psychotherapists, coaches and all those who work in a helping capacity a clear insight into what horses can and cannot do in a therapeutic role.
Table of Contents
List of figures
On equine-assisted psychotherapy and coaching: an introduction
Chapter One: Operation Centaur
Chapter Two: Real horse power
Chapter Three: Methodology
Chapter Four: The horse in the centre
Chapter Five: Interconnectivity
Chapter Six: Relations and roles
Chapter Seven: Work
Chapter Eight: The whole horse: a coda
Andreas Liefooghe, PhD, is Professor of Psychology and Leadership at Sasin, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, a psychologist at Birkbeck, University of London for the past two decades, and a psychotherapist in private practice. A life-long horseman, he founded Operation Centaur in 2005 with the aim of providing a sound theoretical and empirical base for the practice of using horses for therapeutic purposes.
"We are used to thinking of horses as helpful, noble, mysterious even; what is less commonly considered is that they are also embodiments of a deep wisdom. A horse will not judge those it encounters; it lives in the present; it cares nothing for status; its thoughts are private and opaque – though one senses the thinking nevertheless.
This helps to make the horse a remarkable animal in one respect in particular: they are – for us humans – supremely therapeutic. Observing and connecting with these animals allows us to connect with parts of ourselves which may have been neglected or unhelpfully split off. If you look at a horse for five minutes, a tiny part of its tranquil and noble soul takes root in you.
All this is especially true for those who struggle with language; those who cannot easily connect the inside with the outside. In situations where the standard 'talking cure' won't work, perhaps with children with autism, teenagers, soldiers with PTSD, prisoners, and others, connection with horses provides a royal road into the unconscious – and to the rediscovery and articulation of disavowed parts of oneself. The genius of equine therapy is that the horse at the centre of the therapy invites talk, but does not itself require it to communicate.
This is a brilliant book for psychotherapists who may like horses but have never yet considered the role they can play in their profession; and it's a book for animal and horse lovers who knew that relationships with these creatures were therapeutic but had never quite found the words to express it." –Alain de Botton, philosopher and author
"The sections on working with alcohol dependent prisoners and bullying contain practical information that equine therapists can use." –Temple Grandin, author, Animals in Translation
"As a psychiatrist and psychotherapist I have seen first hand the power of equine-assisted psychotherapy on the patients in my care. The field is still poorly understood within wider mental health provision, and this book helpfully addresses this gap. The author introduces the reader to differing ways in which horses may be usefully involved in addressing problems of communication, relationships, addiction, challenging behaviour and other difficulties facing people presenting with mental health problems. I strongly recommend this book to anyone working in mental health or with an interest in training in this field." –Dr Az Hakeem, Consultant Psychiatrist & Medical Psychotherapist