Don Lavender, a world leading psychotherapist and author spoke at the Renewal Centre in Swallowfield, UK about his innovative techniques to treat drug and alcohol dependency, trauma, depression and anxiety using the bond between horses and humans. Lavender insists that tackling deep-seated family troubles is crucial in aiding victims’ recovery and equine assisted psychotherapy is the perfect way to do that.
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is used around the world to help addicted people fight their disease.
Lavender, who lives in Spain and runs the Camino Recovery Centre in Malaga said, “Often families point the finger at the patient but the whole family needs help in addiction and mental health the whole family system needs change. Families are involved in addiction and it’s appropriate they need a say in confronting it without blame or judgment. If you don’t provide that care you can work with someone for a month and they will get as well as they can do, but they will head back into the system when they return home.”
Mr. Lavender outlined his pioneering equine assisted psychotherapy treatment, a technique he began using with fellow therapists in America in 1989, and encouraging patients to interact with horses to overcome deep psychological problems. Patients are urged to whisper their thoughts and fears into the animals’ ears while they stroke, groom or tend to them, before gaining confidence to lead them around lunge pens and riding them.
More than 60 people a year undergo the therapy at his center opting for sessions ranging from a day to six months. Lavender also said, “When a human learns to connect with a human there is sometimes an agenda, but horses have no agenda and there is warmth of connection and safety and healing occurs. People in rehab tend to have an isolative behavior and working with horses allows them to tackle that isolation and reconnect with the self. Whatever you learn to accomplish with the horse can be taken and used in the real world in their relationships.“