Tanglewood Center Lisa Renae Nelson, LMFT
What is Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP)?
Current EFP research is supporting the thousands of anecdotal reports of the human - horse connection and all the stories of positive change while in relationship with an equine. Horses have a rich language and are capable of deep emotional connection, both with their own kind and with humans.
Like the human to human bond, if there are misunderstandings, miscommunication and language barriers; frustrations occur. At other times, the wordless language of the heart speaks and there is elation and expressions of pure joy and abounding love. Amidst this work, lies the opportunity for individual inquiry, exploration and discovering ways to alleviate the unrest or pain experienced and move to well-being.
During an EFP session, a working alliance forms between the horse, client and psychotherapist. This alliance can aid the client in exploring, identifying and addressing issues and areas of concern and create greater internal awareness. These experiential sessions, led in an outdoor milieu, provide an environment where the client can explore and practice positive responses, feelings, behaviors and skills that are transferrable into their everyday lives.
In sessions, horses frequently give the client what they need, not necessarily what they want or expect. Metaphors abound during Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy. If a client is inattentive, a horse may not go in the direction they want. If the client is unsure or timid, the horse may not pick up their foot for hoof-picking. If the client is rough and angry, the horse may walk to the other end of the paddock, facing away. If the client struggles with addiction, they may not be able to move their horse off a patch of grass. During these moments, the psychotherapist can clarify what is occurring. With the help of the equine and newfound awareness in the client, shifts can occur, and the client moves in the direction of finding their way back to wholeness.
Lisa Renae’s father put her on a horse at age two; by age four she was riding independently and long on her way to a lifelong love affair with horses. Teen years created a hiatus from equines and she found her way back to them in adulthood. As a psychotherapist, Lisa Renae became interested in Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy after seeing how the relationship with a horse positively affected a young teen struggling with mental and emotional issues.
She has been offering psychotherapy to children, teens, parents and adults since 1999. SInce 2007, Lisa Renae has provided Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP). She has also created and runs equine-assisted programs for youth with social cognitive deficits, as well as retreats for military and veterans, and grief and loss workshops. She co-facilitates groups on EFP for Therapists; Youth and Horses for At-Risk Teens; Adults, Horses and Healing; EFP for Clients with Cancer, and has participated in providing CEU EFP seminars for psychotherapists.
Here at Tanglewood, Lisa Renae currently offers individual equine facilitated psychotherapy for youth and adults, addressing issues of anxiety, depression, social cognitive deficits and effects of living with cancer.