Equine Therapy, using the EAGALA approach with a qualified practitioner can be a useful adjunct to therapy. Recently Kyra attended an equine therapy session. She has been struggling with a childhood where she had never been loved or accepted by her family and had been struggling with the grief over never knowing what it was like to be looked at with love and acceptance. She felt angry, cheated and damaged. She felt she was constantly seeking acceptance through her interactions with other people.
She walked into the therapy area with great trepidation. She was sure the horses would reject her and she would feel even worse. She walked up to a horse and tentatively patted its nose. It turned its head away and she thought it didn’t want her there. Nothing new about that. She was sure the therapy team were judging her, just as her mother would judge her. So she went away. Later she learned the horse had turned its head back but she was gone.
After learning of that she took the opportunity to connect properly with the horse and it was happy to stand there while she stroked its nose. She then felt confident enough to pat the other horses.
Later, in a counselling session, she reflected on this encounter with the horse and realised she was looking at things the wrong way. She felt unloved and rejected, so approached others expecting to be rejected and not liked. At the first hint the other person was not interested she was act to protect herself and run away. What if people were like the horses, just turning away to attend to something then turning back to continue relating to her but she was gone?
She realised her past did not matter. She may have been unacceptable to her parents but people now accepted her. Being unacceptable as a young child did not mean a lifelong unacceptability.
She was pushing people away at the first hint of what she perceived as rejection, when she was not being rejected. How many friendships could she had had if she had realised this?
She realised she wanted others to give her the acceptance her parents never gave her and set high standards on how she expected them to be and rejected them when they failed to live up to those high standards. She realised no one could give her what her parents failed to give her and that was okay. They could give her acceptance in their relationships in a different way.