THE EAGALA APPROACH
The Eagala team approach is a professional mental health model. It is not recreational horsemanship, riding lessons, or the therapeutic riding. It does not involve riding at all. The Eagala model is a psychological framework based on sound theoretical principles led by a licensed Mental Health Professional. Your therapist is responsible for creating, with your support, a treatment plan and providing for your emotional safety. Your Equine Specialist co-facilitates with your therapist, and helps oversee physical and emotional safety of the horses and everything in the environment. Your intake interviews and progress notes are reviewed by the team so they can create the session in a way that best serves your goals. Treatment sessions are structured to focus on your goals, and the environment is set up in preparation to facilitate the best outcome for you. This allows you to experience life-changing outcomes in a safe, non-judgmental environment.
Healing and change takes more than talking. Horses are highly intuitive and sensitive beings who have a special ability to connect in ways that help you become present-focused, to identify your feelings, and to work through emotional and behavioral barriers without shame or stigma. Horses are large and powerful, and it is hard to ignore their presence - much like a seemingly impossible life issue. As such, horses can provide a metaphor for events or situations in your life. Difficult feelings and situations cannot always be put into words, and sometimes it's better not to try. Bringing horses into the treatment process compels you to be in the present moment, so that you aren't focusing on the past or worrying about the future, but dealing with what's going on now. This allows you to look at your life with clarity and groundedness. Physically engaging with horses while you are also processing what's going on emotionally, you have the opportunity to "rewrite" your life stories and move forward. Even without verbalizing, horses provide a relationship for safe healing to occur
WHAT TO EXPECT
The Eagala Model is an experiential treatment process. You'll be working with your therapist, equine specialist, and horses who help you gain insight into areas you want to change in your life. The role of the Mental Health Professional and Equine Specialist is to hold space - to observe, to put their personal opinions aside and allow you to explore whatever experiences come up for you. Their role is to be present with you. They listen and observe with their ears and hearts, practicing compassion and empathy. Likewise, by nature, horses do not judge or interpret. With horses serving as equal partners of the treatment team, there is no threat of judgement as we become empowered to look at our challenges in a different way.
This is an environment where you'll find benefit in being vulnerable, open to learning, and willing to focus on self-awareness. But don't worry; you won't be expected to share anything you do not want to.
Embrace a "beginner's mindset." Everything you already know, has led you to where you are now. However, this therapy experience is about learning something new. As a team, we are there to support and provide a safe space for you to experience, experiment, and grow personally.
Sessions typically take place in the pasture, with the horses. It is important to be dressed appropriately for the weather. If you don't have boots, that is not a problem. An older pair of shoes will work just fine. If there are questions about what outerwear is appropriate for the pasture and the weather, please don't hesitate to ask.
We look forward to helping you heal, feel empowered, and be confident in your abilities to overcome life's challenges. See you in the pasture!