Equine-Assisted Therapy

About Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)

EAP is an experiential therapy where the equine plays a central role in the healing process as your treatment partner. It involves unmounted (meaning, not on horseback) activities with a licensed mental health professional, which expand the processing of thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that foster emotional healing.

How Horses Heal

As prey animals, horses are highly sensitive to their environment and other beings, which creates immediate “biofeedback” that facilitates therapeutic understanding for the client. The unique human-horse bond offers a genuineness, transparency, and lack of judgment not often observed in human-human relationships.

EAP can help to improve self-awareness, emotion regulation, confidence, and self-worth. This process also develops positive relationship changes by building trust, establishing healthy boundaries, and developing secure attachment bonds.

Effective & Interactive

A strong and growing body of research has demonstrated the efficacy of EAP with many issues and diagnoses, including but not limited to:

Meet Our EAP Providers

Ashley Kohanyi, MAT, LSW

Ashley is a lifelong animal lover and a firm believer in the power of animal-assisted therapy. Having had a special relationship with horses all her life, Ashley dreamed of incorporating them into her practice as a clinician. During grad school, Ashley studied the efficacy of equine-assisted therapies as a research assistant and completed her clinical internship as an equine-assisted psychotherapist at a nationally recognized non-profit. After earning her Master’s in Social Work with a focus in Clinical Mental Health, she has practiced equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) at the largest healing horsemanship program in the nation, where she treats Veterans and adults with a wide range of needs. Ashley has achieved certification in a trauma-informed EAP approach called Natural Lifemanship and other evidence-based therapeutic modalities that she incorporates into EAP practice. NL principles use the science of relationships to help people learn emotion regulation, develop healthy attachment bonds, and deepen their connection to self and others.

Lexi Stoklosa, MA, CMHC

Lexi has enjoyed the art of horsemanship since she started lessons at 8 years old. Throughout this time, horses have become a very important part of her life and her own healing journey. After graduating with her master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Lexi began her internship training at a nationally recognized non-profit treating veterans and a wide base of other clientele. Lexi’s passion for using equine-assisted psychotherapy to serve her clients grew from there, and she worked at this organization for 3 years before buying her own farm. Lexi now owns and runs Healing Hearts Stable and loves sharing her small herd with clients through her partnership with Lighthouse Counseling. Lexi is certified in the EAGALA method of EAP but is also trained in and practices several other modalities, including but not limited to equine-assisted EMDR trauma treatment.

Meet our EAP Therapy Partners

Byron

Austin

Buddy

How Is EAP Billed?

EAP services can be billed through insurance or as a cash rate. Insurances currently accepted are Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO and Quartz.

Workshops and retreats can
be coordinated and are priced based on need and duration.

FAQ's

Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP) sessions will take place at Healing Hearts Stable, located at 5515 Rotary Rd in Cherry Valley, about 15 minutes from our main office. However, please note that the first session will be held at our primary office at 973 Featherstone Rd. in Rockford to complete the intake assessment. 

Sessions are offered during all seasons and most weather conditions and will occur outdoors as much as seasonally possible. During some winter months, sessions will be held in a smaller indoor area away from the elements at the therapist’s discretion. Please note that for the safety of our herd, heat in this indoor area is still limited.
All sessions will be held in our outdoor space as often as the weather allows. If temperatures or conditions are too extreme or dangerous for a session, your therapist will contact you to reschedule or cancel your session. During the snowy winter months, a small indoor space will be available for sessions, but please note that heat is limited in this space for the safety of our herd. Sessions are held rain or shine, moving indoors if there is lightning but occurring outdoors in a covered area during light rain.
EAP is often confused with therapeutic riding, which does involve horseback riding. However, all activities in the EAP modality are conducted on the ground, and no mounted or riding activities are part of the process. According to the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, which trains and certifies EAP providers, activities are unmounted because “The horses are equal partners on the team and are left unencumbered to allow them to interact freely with the client.”
Since EAP sessions will primarily occur outdoors, weather-appropriate clothing will be necessary. Additionally, all participants are required to wear close-toed shoes during sessions and an ASTM SEI-certified helmet (you can borrow one of ours or bring your own).
No horse experience is required to participate in EAP. As previously mentioned, no riding takes place in these sessions, and the focus is on growth and learning related to mental health rather than horsemanship skills. It is normal to feel apprehensive the first time being around such large animals! Our therapists will help you feel as comfortable as possible, taking the processes slowly and prioritizing safety above all.

To schedule your EAP session, contact Lighthouse Counseling today!