How does it work?
The Heads & Tails model of Equine Assisted Clinical Psychology draws upon a wide range of evidence-based psychological treatment modalities and therapeutic approaches to establish individualised, clinical interventions that are supported by therapy horses and equine practices in a tranquil outdoor setting.
This model is trauma informed, and guided by neurobiological evidence which emphasises the importance of regulating the physical symptoms of the stress or flight response which are experienced in the body, and the central role of the therapeutic relationship.
is due to the relationship that is developed with a client
A child’s developing brain be impacted by negative or fearful experiences and relationships resulting in an impairment in the functioning of the nervous system.
The Heads and Tails model provides the optimal environment and clinical support for clients to effectively regulate their stress response through exposure, grounding, and mindfulness-based techniques to reduce emotional distress and unwanted behaviours, as well as increase resilience, improve well-being, and obtain a superior quality of life.
The outdoor, animal assisted setting at Heads and Tails provides a variety of safe and supported opportunities for clients to explore novel experience and extend learning about themselves, others, and the world.
The horses at Heads and Tails play a role in both exposure to the stress response by creating vulnerability, as well as the regulation of the stress response through modelling. When horses detect a potential threat they display overt physical and behavioural changes which indicate stress/flight response, and for the safety and survival of their herd the engage in specific behaviours to help regulate the symptoms of flight response in their bodies to conserve energy.
Equine activities also encourage the awareness of the self and others, promote psychological flexibility, as well as allow scope for creative clinical interventions which are meaningfully experienced – the expert clinical team at Heads & Tails encourage movement and tactile/sensory experience to promote a deeper learning; and closely monitor the treatment outcomes to ensure their clients achieve, transfer, maintain their skills.
The Referral Process
Heads & Tails EACP works collaboratively with mental health professionals, GP’s, FACS case workers, parents and carers.
All children and adolescents are assessed by a Kids & Co Clinical Psychologist or a Kids & Co Clinical Psychology clinician to determine the suitability of this modality and to establish a clear treatment plan.
The Heads & Tails EACP Program
What Happens in a Session?
During sessions, the Heads & Tails clinical team work with the client and the horses to explore, create, experiment and problem solve together.
Activities can be with a horse one on one, with several horses in our specially built indoor or outdoor spaces or within the entire herd. A client can expect to interact with the horses through groundwork experiences, grooming and other hands-on activities rather than riding or horsemanship.
Working with the Heads & Tails team, the clients can then explore, discuss and process their feelings, behaviours, and response-patterns.
The focus of Heads & Tails EACP is dependent upon the needs of the client and can include issues such as non-verbal communication, responsibility, teamwork, self-regulation, expressing or containing emotions, body awareness, assertiveness, creative thinking, problem solving, relationships, respect, self-control, and confidence.
The clinical team design sessions to work with the presenting issues and concerns while providing the opportunity for safe exploration and growth.
Equine assisted mindfulness and grounding strategies can assist children to improve their present moment awareness, awareness of the self and others, and better regulate their emotional experiences. The development of these skills can facilitate improvements in behavioural control and emotional well-being, and increases the child’s capacity for attention, concentration and learning.
Horses and EACP can also support children in developing social skills, distress tolerance and self confidence.
Equine assisted leadership and problem solving techniques encourage psychological flexibility and behavioural adaptivity. These interventions can also assist teens to develop assertive communication and negotiation skills, as well as explore their emotional experience and expand the scope of their understanding of relationships. These skills promote safe personal boundaries, and help to develop conflict resolution which can help overcome hardships such as bullying.
Equine assisted behavioural interventions allow an opportunity to explore alternate perspective taking, test out predictions and cognitive bias through exposure to novel stimuli, and actualise self-potential. These techniques help to gather rich experiential evidence associated troublesome cognitions and/or emotional distress; cognitive learning is reinforced with a congruent emotional experience which aides and more meaningful learning experience – a powerful mechanism in facilitating acceptance and change in conditions such as anxiety and depression.