Children are affected by events and changes in their lives. This may be due to a life event that is out of their control such as their parents getting divorced; moving to secondary school; the loss of a grandparent or close family member or other experiences. Children may find it difficult to talk about what is troubling them. This can mean that they show their distress through behaviours in the following ways:-
- being disruptive in class
- concentration problems
- self-regulation – the ability to deal with stress and manage emotions
- forming relationships, with their peers
- harmful behaviours such as smoking
- self harm
- difficulties in learning and retaining information
- anxiety and depression
It is important to remember, that adolescents are going through a time of change, where they are moving towards greater independence and the transition of leaving home. At the same time there are major changes happening in the structure of their brains between the ages of 12 and 24. This can be a difficult time for parents as their lovely child can now behave in confusing and difficult ways. The work of renowned neuropsychiatrist Daniel Siegel, in his book Brainstorm, shows how brain development impacts on teenagers’ behaviour and relationships.
How can Equine Therapy help my child?
Evaluation from a number of studies shows that Equine Assisted Psychotherapy results in decreased levels of anxiety, depression and disruptive behaviour. One study shows how working with horses helped adolescents to change their behaviour, take responsibility for their actions and the impact it has on others.
For example if a child is sad, a horse may respond by moving close to them so they are in physical contact with the child. The child instinctively reaches out to touch the horse, helping them express their sadness.
A young person that needs encouragement to take part in a group activity is nudged forward by a horse. The child may be unaware of their feelings or behaviour until the horse reflects it back to them.
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy can help young people improve their relationships outside of the sessions. Teenagers can feel misunderstood by parents and other adults. This may contribute to feelings of isolation, at a time, where they are developing a sense of their own identity. Horses accepted you as you are and the sessions provides a safe space to explore these issues. They also pick up on emotions and can help children to connect to themselves. There is the added benefit of working in a beautiful rural setting where connection to nature can help calm anxiety and promote a feeling of calm.
Attachment & Relationship: horses can provide an important attachment figure to children & adolescents who have experienced humans as abusive & unsafe. This can help them to learn to trust themselves and others.
How many sessions will my child need?
Like any relationship, trust takes time to develop and a number of sessions may be needed. We usually suggest that your child comes for a minimum of 6 sessions and then we will decide together whether longer term work is needed.