EAP is Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy, which simply refers to the fact that horses are used as an aide to work with youth and teens with emotional and behavioral problems. Residents of Children's Homes receive the experiential learning that comes from working with horses. The children learn a variety of skills that can be transferred over into "real-life" situations.
On the surface the program looks relatively simple: The residents learn to ride and take care of a horse. They are taught basic skills such as grooming, riding, caring for the horse, learning about the animals and the tack. However, they are also learning to build trust, relationships, self-confidence, teamwork, responsibility, assertiveness, communication, respect, self-control and a multitude of other skills.
The equine therapy program may benefit children with:
- Abuse issues (sexual, verbal and physical)
- Violence and neglect issues
- Substance abuse issues
- Lack of self-esteem, confidence and respect
- Poor listening skills
- Attention deficit problems
- Lack of trust
- Poor relationship skills
- Attachment problems
- Poor communication skills
- Lack of response to traditional therapies
Residents begin the program in the Balcom Learning Center, where they participate in therapeutic groups. This includes the Equine Therapy group. As they work and show progress in dealing with their own individual issues, they begin to help to teach others in the groups and to participate in the 4-H program. Some advance through the program to the point where they can ride in shows, in parades, or work as wranglers with Children's Homes' trail-riding program.
Donations of money, horses, volunteering or tack are gladly accepted and will be used to their fullest. These are tax deductible donations.
For information, contact Brian Rankin at The Balcom Learning Center, 870-239-8316.