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“When clients first show up, just inviting them to go out and do something with the horses, whether it be something like just meeting them, if they’re having issues with relationships, well, here is a bunch of relationships in this space that they can go out and start. And through that, we are able to watch how they start those relationships, how those relationships develop, and those end up becoming parallels to exactly what is going on in their life.”

Lynn Thomas

In this podcast, Lynn Thomas, Executive Director of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), gallops into a discussion of the use of horses in psychotherapy and the benefits that they can bring to clients. She describes EAGALA and the world-wide practice of equine-assisted mental health therapy, as well as the benefits that it can bring to clients and practitioners alike. Thomas explores the reasons and research addressing why working with horses can help clients with a wide range of presenting concerns. She also highlights how horses can bring special benefits to work with involuntary and non-verbal clients, veterans, and families. Throughout the discussion, Thomas weaves in stories and practice examples of the ways that incorporating horses into psychotherapy has helped clients to achieve breakthroughs and insights into their own lives and relationships, and find health and healing with their equine companions. She also provides practical steps that mental health professionals can take to incorporate equine-assisted practices into their work safely and effectively, even if they have no prior experience with horses.

Lynn Thomas, LCSW Lynn earned her Master’s in Social Work at the University of Utah in 1995. She obtained licensure as an LCSW in Utah in 1999. She has been in the field of mental health for 20 years. After obtaining her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Brigham Young University, she worked as milieu staff in various settings, including wilderness therapy, youth corrections, a psychiatric hospital, and a residential treatment center on a ranch setting. After obtaining her Master’s, she continued to focus on adolescents and families –working again in wilderness therapy and residential treatment. She had the opportunity to help start Aspen Ranch in Loa, Utah (youth residential treatment program) where she incorporated EAP, and became its Executive Director, and then the Executive Director for Aspen Achievement Academy wilderness program. She then developed a private practice that focused on EAP. She co-founded EAGALA in 1999 and presently serves as Executive Director.

Interviewer: Julia Fierle, LCSW

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