Since 2014, Verde Loma Counseling at True Grit Stables in Georgetown has been providing life-changing services and improving the mental health of individuals, families and groups through equine-assisted psychotherapy.
The Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association model is a team approach that includes a licensed mental health professional, a qualified equine specialist and horses working together with the client.
During sessions, all work is done on the ground. The horses are front and center - deliberately unhindered and never ridden, simply allowed to interact with the client as they wish.
This creates a space for the client, with the support of the professional facilitators, to reflect, project and make deep connections. This has proven to be extremely effective when working with marginalized groups such as women and children, veterans, sex-trafficking survivors and criminal offenders.
Verde Loma and True Grit Stables work with victims of trauma, children in foster care, veterans, and seniors who are looking toward the next chapters in their lives. The EAGALA model has been helpful because it consists of all ground work and the horses respond to nonverbal as well as verbal messages.
Many clients feel that equine-assisted psychotherapy greatly enhances traditional talk therapy.
Inspired by true events, “The Mustang,” a Focus Features film that premiered in theaters March 15, tells the story of a violent convict who is given the chance to participate in a prison rehabilitation program centered around training wild mustangs.
Both “The Mustang” and the EAGALA model demonstrate the ability of the horse to assist in addressing mental health needs.
As prey animals, horses respond to nonverbal messages, even unconscious ones, and their responses often remind clients of their goals, personal challenges or relationships with themselves and others. This model provides an environment to work through those relationships in a unique yet effective way.