A new way for humans and horses to achieve more.
Psynergy EQ is the natural progression of Psynergy's commitment to serving individuals experiencing mental distress and the founders' love of the Arabian horse breed.
Psynergy EQ brings together the natural lessons of working with people and the Arabian horse for the benefit of marginalized groups. Psynergy Programs is developing additional natural living environments for individuals that experience mental distress and emotional trauma. At he center of this evolution is the idea of Psynergy EQ– living, understanding, teaching and working with natural resources and natural environments to achieve more meaningful lives.
The relationship between man and animals goes back centuries. Horses are one of the few species that have become domesticated and have become integral parts of the human psyche as healers, helpers and heroes. For several thousand years, the Arabian horse lived among the desert tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabian breed is the oldest known breed of riding horse with a rare combination of intelligence and gentleness. They are, possibly, the breed that has been in contact with humankind the longest.
Animals have assisted humans in many jobs from search and rescue to protection. But the history of using animals to help heal people is also long. A care home in Bethel Germany with more than 5,000 current patients has used animals as the center of the treatment approach since 1867. The North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) has grown from 10 rising centers in 1969 to almost 600 today. The movement to transform repressive and isolating mental health systems started over 25 years ago in Trieste, Italy with the symbol of a Blue Horse representing freedom.
Therapeutic work with animals has inevitably grown to an interest in using horses to facilitate therapy. Research is now providing evidence as to how animals help facilitate healthier, happier humans. Mental health professionals have developed a modality called equine facilitated psychotherapy. Psynergy Programs has a commitment to incorporate the best research and most effective methods of using the natural relationship between people and the Arabian horse to improve the lives of the individuals we serve.
Can grooming and riding horses foster recovery from mental illness? According to a recent article published in the Psychiatric Times, the answer is "yes." Evidence continues to accumulate; more rigorous controlled studies are being conducted, resulting in the emergence of a significant body of literature supporting the therapeutic value of the human-companion animal interaction…" An article reviewing the benefits of animal-assisted therapy has even appeared in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.
Benefits of Equine Therapy
In light of research and observational findings, experts suggest that Equine Therapy—a common form of animal-assisted therapy—may yield a variety of psychotherapeutic benefits.
• Confidence: The learning and mastery of a new skill—horsemanship—enhances patients' confidence in their ability to tackle new projects, such as recovery, and leads to improved self-esteem.
• Self-Efficacy: Learning to communicate and achieve harmony with a large animal promotes renewed feelings of efficacy. A motivated "I can do it!" replaces feelings of helplessness and empowers the person to take on challenges in other areas of recovery.
• Communication: Horses' sensitivity to non-verbal communication assists patients in developing greater awareness of their emotions, the non-verbal cues that they may be communicating, and the important role of non-verbal communication in relationships.
• Trust: Learning to trust an animal such as a horse also aids in the development, or restoration, of trust for those whose ability to trust has been violated by difficult life experiences such as physical or sexual abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
• Perspective: Through grooming activities and other types of care for a specific horse, residents are able to put aside the absorbing focus of their mental illness, such as depressive ruminations, and instead direct their attention and interests outwardly toward safe and caring interactions.
• Anxiety Reduction: Many studies of human-animal interaction indicate that contact with animals significantly reduces physiological anxiety levels. Some patients are initially afraid of horses. But horses' genuineness and affection allay these fears, helping patients to embrace exposure therapy for their anxiety issues.
• Decreasing Isolation: For many individuals with mental illness, there is a long-term or recent history of feeling rejected by, and different from, other people. Mental illnesses are intrinsically isolating experiences. The horse's unconditional acceptance invites patients back into the fellowship of life.
• Self-Acceptance: Many patients are initially concerned that they will do something embarrassing while learning about or riding the horses. Yet patients quickly learn that the other participants are engaged in their own equine experiences, and they observe the comfort of the horses in their own skin. Fears of embarrassment in public are thereby often reduced and self-acceptance increased.
• Impulse Modulation: Particularly for those whose mental illness involves the experience of lost control over impulses, the need to communicate with a horse calmly and non-reactively promotes the skills of emotional awareness, emotion regulation, self-control, and impulse modulation. Research clearly indicates that animal-assisted therapy reduces patient agitation and aggressiveness and increases cooperativeness and behavioral control.
• Social Skills: Many individuals with mental illness are socially isolated or withdrawn. A positive relationship with a horse is often a first, safe step toward practicing the social skills needed to initiate closer relationships with people.
• Boundaries: Many patients have experienced prior relationships as controlling or abusive. Healing takes place as patients discover that riding occurs within the context of a respectful relationship between a rider and a horse, and that, although physically powerful, each horse typically operates within the boundaries of this mutually respectful relationship.
Equine Assisted Therapy allows the participant to have control over the horse and find a confidence within themselves that they may have thought lost. They are able to form a bond with the horse and socialize with other individuals with similar illnesses, thus lifting the isolated feelings that they may have experiences. Equine assisted activities raise confidence and esteem levels and give the participant a sense of accomplishment and self worth.
Animals can facilitate positive changes in a person's life by creating opportunities to improve physical, social, emotional and mental support. Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy creates an opportunity for individuals to bridge the world that they have known to a world that they can create. The dynamic experiences of observing, working, grooming and even riding a horse develop strengths, social skills and sense of self. The psychologist Carl Jung describes the impact that certain images can have on a person's view of themselves. One of his archetypes is "The Enduring Horse", the part of ourselves that never gives up. He saw the horse as an icon for the work of transcendence and liberation (Henderson, 1964).
For additional information about Psynergy please visit: www.psynergy.org