The case studies are based on clients we have worked with. The identities of these clients have been changed to protect their identity.
Jenny had a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. She was a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Jenny came to us because she was finding intimacy difficult in her marriage.
In the sessions we noticed that the horses hardly moved as if they were frozen to the spot. This experience mirrored Jenny’s life outside of the sessions and what happens with her husband when he initiated any physical contact with her. The horses were mirroring Jenny’s ‘frozen’ trauma response. We continued working with her for several months and gradually we start to notice a change, the horses and Jenny started to move signalling a significant shift in our work together. Jenny was able to enjoy physical touch with the horses and this gradually transferred into her relationship with her husband. Most of these changes happened without words though interaction between Jenny and the horses.
Rosie had been in care for 7 years with over 15 different placements. All of these had broken down due to her aggressive & risk taking behaviours. Rosie ran away or lashed out when she was challenged.
We worked with Rosie over a 2 year period. On this day we were working outside in the arena with 3 horses. Rosie wanted to stroke one of the horses, which kept walking away as she approached. She got angry and stormed out of the arena leaving the gate open. Rosie sat on a bench and lit a cigarette (smoking was not allowed on site). All the horses came out of the open gate and started to graze – placing themselves close to Rosie. The horse she had wanted to connect with approached her and placed it’s head gently alongside Rosie’s face. She started to cry.
We knew that this was a significant moment for Rosie. In her life outside of the arena, she has learnt to push people away through her behaviour so that no one can see her vulnerability and pain.
We continued working with Rosie using equine assisted psychotherapy for a further year. At the end of our work together she was significantly less angry; she had developed close relationships with the horses, her care staff and with some of her peers.