Equine Therapy is one of the best modalities to help eating disorder clients get in touch with their feelings. Equine therapy uses the experiences with the horse instead of using talk therapy. This can be most helpful if the client is uncomfortable with feelings and stays in the intellect to avoid feeling. This makes it especially effective for eating disorder treatment because most clients have difficulty accessing their feelings. Clients with eating disorders that need eating disorder treatment usually do not have a clear picture of how others are reacting to them or the effect they are having on others. Using the horse the client can see how their emotions affect the horse. If they are afraid, the horse will be anxious and may not approach the client. The equine specialist monitors the horse in order to infer and interpret the subtle ways the horse's body language communicates comfort or discomfort in the presence of the client. As the client gains confidence the horse will react differently. The horse mirrors the client’s behavior and emotions.
At Rebecca’s House Eating Disorder Treatment Programs™ we have extended our philosophy of supporting non-profits to our choice of equine therapists. Our beautiful equestrian facility is located close to Rebecca’s House Eating Disorder Treatment Programs™. The horses are gentle rescue horses. The clients are unaware of this fact when they chose the horse they want to work with. After selecting their horse they are told the story of how the horse got to the equine treatment facility. The focus during equine treatment therapy moves from the client-therapist relationship to the client's relationship with the horse, and ultimately, with themselves.
One client at Rebecca’s House was working with her therapist because of relapsing with bulimia and binge eating. She could not identify the reasons for her relapse. She had been divorced for a little over a year. She picked a horse that had been abandoned and left alone without anyone to care for it or even feed it. The connection was immediate. Eventually the client accessed her feelings of being abandoned. She had been condemning herself with negative self talk about her divorce. When told to repeat the self talk dialogue to the horse she broke down. The negative talk was incongruent with the loving feelings she had for her horse. She was able to transfer those feelings to herself and began to heal.