Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) or Equine Facilitated Learning (EFL)
What: Similar to those who offer “life coaching”, EAL programs veer away from deeper therapeutic instead focusing on life skills, building confidence, better understanding of oneself and others, while offering an outdoor recreational activity. There are multiple benefits to be gained from partnering with horses to help humans learn more about themselves and the world they live in. EAL is often conducted on the ground, though riding may be offered. Volunteer needs are lower than adaptive riding, however people are still needed to assist with safety.
· History: As Hippotherapy/adaptive therapy grew, practitioners couldn’t ignore the mental health benefits being seen in their sessions and with their clients. This awareness gave rise to a separate branch of equine assisted work focused primarily on the mental wellness of clients. EAL is generally considered a newer method of horse interaction, though it is quickly growing in popularity.
· Who: Anyone can benefit from EAL! Those most commonly seen are youth with some risky behaviors, adults seeking to learn more about themselves, school-based groups, domestic abuse survivors, and elderly populations, just to name a few.
· Where: Sessions can take place in the horse’s pasture, in an arena, or the barn since specialized equipment isn’t required.
About Brenda Cole – Contributing Author:
Brenda holds a Bachelors of Science (BS) degree in Natural Horsemanship with a focus area in Psychology, and my Bachelors of Arts (BA) in Literature and Writing along with a Masters of Science (MS) in Counseling. She completed her Masters at Prescott College in 2017. Brenda also holds a post-masters certificate in Equine Assisted Mental Health. She is a registered behavioral technician in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapies and also hold certifications in Love & Logic parenting models & CPI Nonviolent Crisis Intervention. I was granted my Mental Health Counselor Associate license from Washington State in 2018.