MEET OUR HORSES
A Mirror of Emotions
Horses are herd and prey animals; they are very perceptive of feelings. They mirror the moods, fears, and anxieties of their human handlers in a way that can be discussed and processed.
A child that is angry and resistive will be met by resistive behavior in their therapy horse. The therapist can discuss how the horse is communicating its frustration, and help the adolescent problem solve ways to encourage cooperation from their horse.
During this time, the child that is resistive and angry is actually learning and practicing ways to deal with their own anger and fears. The setting is less threatening and more concrete than just talking. The child is forced to work through his or her own issues in order to get the horse to comply. The horse, presented as a problem to be solved, provides motivation to the client. The techniques used while working with the horse can be directly applied to problem solving to the child and parents. What would take months to get through in an office setting can be done in a single session at CHAPS.
Meet Our Horses
Click on the photos for more information on each of our horses.
A Supporting Presence
Adolescents can and do tell a horse many things that they would not consider telling a counselor. The counselor's presence during this time offers guidance and support and aids the adolescent in their interpretation of the behavior of the horses as well as their own behavior.
While observing the horses, clients find that they can relate to the animals because they have individual and social behavior similar to humans: one of our horses is dominant, one is afraid, one lacks the ability to pay attention and another has an actual addiction.
Horses provide comfort and unconditional love. This genuine acceptance provides adolescents with the support they need to move through difficult issues.
A Problem to be Solved
CHAPS uses a plethora of activities - problems to be solved. This method is non-threatening and physically experiential and very quickly allows the therapist to observe and evaluate coping skills, communication techniques and problem solving skills.
Therapists might let two horses loose in the indoor arena and provide several types of halters on a table and then, instruct the adolescent to "pick out a horse and a halter and put the halter on the horse however you can".
Generally, treatment follows the experience - process - re-experience model. The client engages in an activity, processes the experience with the counselor, and the activity is repeated to utilize the new skills.