Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

What is Equine Assisted Psychotherapy?

Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is an experiential therapy administered by a licensed mental health professional and a certified equine specialist to address specific psychotherapy treatment goals. Horses willingly participate in these individual or group sessions giving the client a holistic treatment experience.

Interaction with horses during a counseling session provides clients a dynamic type of feedback accessed solely through this type of therapy. Horses are particularly sensitive to one’s emotional state and require humans to be congruent with their own emotions. Horses, due to their prey animal nature, will only build trusting relationships when they feel safe. Clients often work with horses as they are loose in the arena, exploring the effects of their body language on the horses. Communicating through interactions with the horse creates a safe space for the client to explore difficult thoughts and feelings and a chance to reflect inwardly without fear of judgement. Horses also require a sense of awareness from humans, and exercising this sense of awareness can aid clients in rebuilding neuroplasticity, attentiveness, and thought processes.

What if I Already Have a Therapist?

Did you know that Forward Stride offers EAP as a supplemental therapy?  If you already have a therapist but would like to partner with a horse in developing the next chapter of your story, we can help!  Changing up a therapeutic routine and adding in body movement may help to open additional therapeutic doors in your treatment. Contact us if you are interested. 503-217-2189 or efp@forwardstride.org

Who Are The EAP Staff and What Do They Do?

  • Jessica Conwell: Program Coordinator, Clinical Supervisor, Psychologist
  • Kimberlee Cooper: Interim Program Coordinator, Mental Health Therapist
  • Rebeca Beeman: Mental Health Therapist
  • Kelsey Corey: Mental Health Therapist
  • Amanda Garrison: Equine Specialist
  • Shannon Tabbal Haider: Equine Specialist
  • Charlotte Cheney: Mental Health Therapist, Equine Specialist
  • Liz Johnson: Equine Specialist
  • Mary Ann Kappa: Equine Specialist
  • Kendall Rauscher: Equine Specialist
  • Micah Vaughn: Equine Specialist, Mental Health Therapist
  • Michelle Whiteaker: Equine Specialist

Our team of highly trained staff utilizes evidence-based practices such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Brief Solution-Focused Therapy, Trauma-Informed Care, Seeking Safety, Gottman method, Family Systems Theory, and play therapy, alongside of animal-assisted therapy in order to maximize treatment benefits. Forward Stride Clinical Services staff are specially trained to work with people with mental health conditions, developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, and have experience working with clients suffering from co-occurring disorders.

Our equine specialists are certified and trained in a variety of equine industry treatment models, including the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, and Natural Lifemanship.

What Are Our Specialties?

Our clinicians are able to provide treatment for a variety of concerns.  These are a few of the specialties offered:

  • Anxiety
  • Trauma/PTSD
  • Addictions
  • Eating Disorders
  • Children and Families
  • Adolescents
  • Adults


What Are The Benefits of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy?

  • Reduce Anxiety and stress levels
  • Increase cognitive functioning
  • Improve communication
  • Build healthy relationship skills
  • Increase Independence and Confidence
  • Provides client with immediate feedback
  • A safe place to practice life skills

As an EAP client, I began working with Mars who is still my favorite horse at the barn. The relationship you can create with a horse is incredibly special and it melts my heart when Mars stomps his feet and neighs at me.


Models We Use

Here at Forward Stride, we utilize a variety of EAP models to ensure each client receives a care plan tailored to their specific needs. Your treatment team can help you decide which model, or combination of models, will work best for you.

PATH Model – Personal growth through horsemanship for people of all abilities.

All of our equine specialists are certified in this model and it is inclusively designed to serve people of all abilities with a combination of teaching clients horsemanship on the ground and how to interpret horse behavior. The PATH model can be particularly helpful for children, people with cognitive disorders or physical disabilities, or people who thrive with a more structured therapeutic environment.

EAGALA Model – Creative problem solving through metaphorical experiences.

Many of our staff are certified in this model and it is designed to allow clients to draw metaphors about their lives from their interactions with the horse. Rather than engaging in typical horsemanship type activities, the horses are typically free to roam in the arena during sessions, and clients are more self-directed. The EAGALA model can be particularly helpful for people who prefer less structure or who have difficulty with traditional talk therapy.

Natural Lifemanship Model – The art and science of connected relationships.

Two of our equine specialists and one of our therapists are trained in this model and it is designed to help clients develop connected relationships with healthy attachment and detachment. Clients typically spend their time developing a relationship with one specific horse, each identifying as an equal partner in the relationship, and learning what connected attachment and detachment looks like and feels like in the body. The Natural Lifemanship model is particularly helpful for those in recovery from trauma, or who are looking to find meaningful, healthy relationships.


Intake Assessment: $225
Individual or Family session: $150



Registration Form

To sign up for EAP individual or group session, please fill out the form below. For questions regarding this therapy, please contact our EAP Program Coordinator, Jessica Conwell, at (503) 217-2189, or email efp@forwardstride.org.