Women are invited to interact with horses and address personal struggles at the Healing Confidence Workshop hosted by the University Counseling Center Equine Assisted Counseling program on Friday.
At the workshop, women can experience a new approach to therapy through games, activities and obstacle courses involving horses. The free workshop is offered from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. on Friday at Rhoden Farm and is open to female students, faculty and community members.
Through the workshop, participants can build relationships with the animals while addressing topics like confidence, self-esteem, identity and healing from current and past wounds.
“Life challenges can seem so big, as though you have no control over them. It’s the same with these animals,” said ACU counselor Steve Eller. “You learn the new language of having to talk about your challenges and struggles.”
During the hands-on, interactive workshop, each attendee will receive a treatment team to guide them through the program. An equine specialist will monitor interaction with the horses while a mental health professional mediates the workshop. Each participant will also be assigned a horse with which to interact and learn.
“It is just another unique way of using animals to get through those tough times in life,” Eller said.
The successful bond between horses and humans is no new concept for the University Counseling Center. Eller, who is certified, began the Equine Assisted Counseling program last spring. With the help of two ACU sophomores as the equine specialists, Eller hosts a variety of workshops and therapeutic sessions in which horses are used in the healing.
EAC is “an alternative, experiential approach to traditional therapy, utilizing the power and healing nature of horses by providing a metaphoric language of awareness to current challenges,” according to the program’s brochure.
Katie Havis, sophomore psychology major from Fort Worth, works with the horses as one of the equine specialists.
“Instead of going out and sitting in an office, you get to be with horses,” Havis said. “I get to see the results and witness how much people grow and become more confident.”
Havis monitors the safety and progression of the interactions between horse and client through their body language and emotions.
Kati Saylor, sophomore exercise science pre-physical therapy major from Abilene, is another EAC equine specialist. Kati, who has been riding since she was 7, said she has always wanted to share her love of horses with those around her, and has since been working with equine-related therapy programs in both the Abilene and the Dallas areas.
“My two biggest passions are horses and helping people,” Saylor said. “It’s such a blessing to be involved with a program like this and with ACU.”
According to their website, EAC can address a variety of mental health and developmental needs including behavioral issues, attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, anger management, depression, anxiety, relationship struggles and communication needs.
To reserve a spot in this Friday’s Healing Confidence Workshop, contact Steve Eller in the University Counseling Center at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 325-674-2626 or visit www.acu.edu/eac.
Space for the equine therapy workshop is limited so early registration for the event is encouraged.