BENEFITS OF EQUINE FACILITATED LEARNING
How Can EFL Benefit You
A significant body of evidence has shown that animal therapy offers a variety of benefits that foster psychological, mental, physical and/or emotional growth. Benefits of this program include but are not limited to:
Horses are incredibly sensitive to both verbal and non-verbal forms of communication. The ability to rely on non-verbal communication between the horse and handler is perfect for those that may have speech or language barriers, or for people suffering from anxiety. Focusing on non-verbal communication encourages people to develop a greater awareness of their own emotions and the non-verbal cues they are unconsciously sending out.
Horses are gentle giants! Learning to trust such a large animal aids in building and restoring trust. Horses are unbiased and non-judgemental but react to the emotions and behaviours of the human. Once clients have developed a relationship with the horse, that trust will not be betrayed.
There are many reasons a person may experience difficulty with establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. Mutually respectful boundaries are a start, but a relationship also requires trust, effective communication, and a desire to work on issues that may arise. Horses respond to both verbal and non-verbal communication and can choose to comply, resist, ignore, or connect with a human. Just as the horse can sense when a person is trying to dominate or control them, they can also sense when a human wants a heartfelt connection. In order to develop a deep connection with the horses, clients need to make a sincere effort to connect, paying close attention to their emotions, intentions, and body language. Understanding what it takes to create a meaningful relationship with the horses will help clients to develop similar relationships with the people in their lives.
The relationship between the horse and human requires mutual respect. People with a history of abusive or controlling relationships will learn to manage relationship and behavioural boundaries by working with the horses. They will later use these skills to better manage their human relationships and maintain healthy boundaries with the people in their lives.
Horses respond to non-verbal cues, which means that effectively communicating with a horse requires emotional awareness and regulation, as well as self-control. Equine facilitated learning has been demonstrated to help those with mental disorders or developmental delays reduce aggressiveness and agitation. It also helps clients learn how to establish healthier communication techniques that can be applied to their human relationships.
We all know that spending time in nature is great for reducing stress, and it’s well known that spending time with animals is similarly good for reducing stress and increasing levels of happiness. It should come as no surprise then that spending time outdoors working with horses is great for reducing stress levels and increasing happiness! Getting lost in the joy of spending time with horses is also great for clients that may need to release repressed emotions and rediscover the joy in everyday life.