Equine Therapy Program

Maui Recovery’s Equine therapy program is a weekly program at the Ohana Ranch up beautiful upcountry Maui. Equine-facilitated psychotherapy is an experiential form of psychotherapy that involves equines. The Ohana Ranch provides standards of professionalism and safety for people working in EFP.

EFP is defined as an interactive process in which a healing professional working with or as an appropriately credentialed equine professional partners with suitable equine(s) to address psychotherapy goals set forth by the mental health professional and the client.

The equine is a critically important partner in the work of EFP. The equine’s prey nature and intense sensitivity to subtle changes in their environment make them perfect partners for professionals who teach a wide range of life and coping skills.

The concept that horses might be helpful or healing to people struggling with mental health or addiction issues is based on the idea that horses (as domesticated prey animals) are extremely sensitive to changes in the human being (as a predatory creature). Due to their sensitivity, horses react and respond to people differently based upon the person’s emotional state. Since we know that emotional states in human beings also impact our physiology, it only makes sense that horses can smell or sense (using their vomeronasal organ) those changes. The horse acts as a large biofeedback machine, providing the client and the therapist with information regarding the client’s moods and changes within those moods. If a client arrives anxious the horse will act and respond one way. If the client is able to reduce his or her anxiety, the horse’s behaviors will also change. This provides a plethora of information and skill building opportunities for both the client and the therapist.

Spending time with our pets can make us feel better, calmer and even happier. Indeed, studies suggest that people with pets experience both emotional and physical benefits. Time spent with an animals is proven to enhance a meaningful, healing experience and rewire the neurology to produce deeper connections to intimacy.  That’s the goal of equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP), an increasingly popular experiential treatment where individuals interact with horses in a variety of activities, including grooming, feeding, walking and equine games, for improving their psychological health.