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Concentration in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy Available This Fall


May 2, 2011

Averett University is once again breaking the mold in regards to courses available to its students. The University's faculty recently approved a new concentration for the equestrian studies program - equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP). The concentration is also available as a minor to students in the psychology and sociology/criminal justice programs. The concentration will be available in the fall.

In the new concentration, students will take four core courses including introduction to equine assisted psychotherapy, equine behavior and two practicum courses where students will gain hands on experience. By the time students are finished they will be nationally certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA).

"Equine assisted psychotherapy is a personal passion," said Ginger Henderson, '91, assistant professor and chair of the equestrian studies department. Henderson is a licensed, professional counselor. "Animal assisted therapy is a very popular new field. When I was hired several years ago, I told them it was something I would like to see us develop.

"There is a lot of interest in this form of therapy, and it fits well with our expanded health sciences and autism initiatives."

Equine assisted psychotherapy is an experiential form of therapy. In EAP, mental health professionals join with equine professionals to allow people and horses to work together. It is not about riding a horse, rather people interact with the horse in other activities including non-verbal communication, creative thinking and problem-solving, taking responsibility, teamwork and relationships. EAP is used with people who have behavioral issues, attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders and depression.

Those people who are in helping professions like psychology, sociology, et cetera, may audit the courses. The core courses build on each other, so they must be taken in sequence. For more information about auditing the courses contact the registrar's office at 434-791-5634.