Sandy Hook, CT — Eagala (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) program, Embrace Hope – Sandy Hook Equine Assisted Therapy, has been providing life-changing services and improving the mental health of individuals, families, and groups through equine-assisted psychotherapy since 2013.
The Eagala Model is a team approach that includes a licensed Mental Health Professional, a qualified Equine Specialist, and horses working together with the client in an arena at all times. When inside the arena, all the work is done on the ground with the horses front and center, deliberately unhindered and never ridden, and allowed to interact with the client as they wish. This creates the space for the client, with the support of the professional facilitators, to reflect, project, and make deep connections.
This has proven to be extremely effective in working with marginalized groups such as women and children, sex-trafficking survivors, and criminal offenders. Embrace Hope has helped numerous children who were traumatized by the December 14, 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook School and the organization plans to help many more in the years to come.
Inspired by true events, The Mustang, premiering this Friday, March 15th, tells the story of a violent convict who is given the chance to participate in a prison rehabilitation program centered around the training of wild mustangs. Both The Mustang and the Eagala Model show the power of the horse in addressing mental health needs. As prey animals, horses respond to nonverbal messages, even unconscious ones, and their responses often remind clients of their goals, personal challenges, or relationships with themselves and others. This provides a safe environment to work through those relationships, where the horses only change when we do.
Since 1999, Eagala has set the global standard for equine-assisted psychotherapy and personal development. Boasting over 500 regional programs, and with more than 2,500 certified members in over 40 countries, it is the leading international nonprofit association for professionals incorporating horses to address mental health and personal development needs. For more information, visit eagala.org.