Equine-Assisted Therapy

What Is Equine Therapy?


Equine Therapy & Counseling - Brighton & Plymouth MI - horse-ridingThe specially trained psychologists at McCaskill Family Services are excited to team up with Brighton Equestrian Club to offer Equine Therapy (also referred to as Horse Therapy, Equine-Assisted Therapy, and Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy).

This type of therapy involves interactions between patients and horses in guided activities such as grooming, feeding, leading, mounting, and riding to improve behavior, thought processes and emotional control. Equine Assisted Therapy is a treatment that promotes physical, emotional and occupational growth.

Learn more about Equine Therapy:

Contact our Brighton Office

What are the Benefits of Equine Therapy?

Studies have shown that equine therapy has been successful in helping children, teens and adults make significant improvements in a short amount of time in following areas:

  • Confidence
  • Self- Esteem
  • Assertiveness
  • Anger Management
  • Social Skills and Communication
  • Emotional Awareness
  • Empathy
  • Stress Management
  • Flexibility
  • Impulse Control
  • Anxiety Management
  • Problem-Solving Skills
  • Independence
  • Improved Mood 
  • Interpersonal Relationships

Horses are astute at reading human emotions and people often turn to animals for comfort. Horses are by nature accepting and non-judgmental.  They can mirror human emotions and behavior and will respond to negativity, therefore encouraging the client to be calm, open, gentle and aware. 

While working with horses under the guidance and supervision of an equine therapist, equine therapy patients have a unique and effective opportunity to get direct feedback on their pattern of problematic behaviors, self-defeating negative thoughts and actions. These insights and skills then translate to everyday life and people feel happier, more connected and successful.

Talk to Us About Equine Therapy

Here is another great video from Bit of Hope Ranch in Gastonia, NC to help you understand a little more about equine therapy.  Our Equine Therapy Program is similar, but we also offer groups and incorporate DBT and CBT skills run by a doctoral level licensed clinical psychologist.

Who Would Benefit from Equine Therapy from McCaskill Family Services in Brighton?

Children of all ages, Teenager and Adults with:

  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Behavior Problems
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Grief/Loss
  • Trauma
  • Attachment Disorders
  • Anger Problems
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Social Problems
  • Inflexibility
  • Addiction
  • Lack of Empathy

No riding experience is necessary and in many cases, there will be no actual riding during equine-assisted therapy.  As groups form, we will try to match your child with same-age peers.

Fall 2018 Horse Therapy Group Schedule:

8 Week Sessions:

October 1st - November 19th

Mondays: 12:30 - 2 - Adult Grief Group Ages 18 and up

Adult Grief Group and Description

The grieving process is not a one size fits all model. Every individual struggles to overcome loss and bereavement in their own way. If you have recently lost a loved one, a pet, or are struggling with another type of loss, consider joining McCaskill Family Services at the Brighton Equestrian Club for an 8-week group centered around helping individuals who are struggling with grief and loss. This group will focus on helping you feel less scared, depressed and alone through the development of a bond with your equine partner. The psychologist will guide you through empirically-based therapy approaches that have been proven to be very effective and often used in grief therapy sessions in the office. Horses are incredibly powerful mirrors of human emotion and the horse-human bond is one that can help people people find peace during difficult times. No horse experience is necessary to participate. We will teach you all you need to know in order to bond safely with your equine partner. Closed toed shoes required.

Mondays: 5 - 6:30 - Teen Girls Ages 13 - 17

DBT and CBT for Teen Girls

Do you have a teenage girl struggling with issues of depression, anxiety, self-esteem, or low self-confidence?  Equine therapy could be the answer.  This 8-week, 90-minute per session group is designed to help young girls gain confidence in themselves through building a relationship with the horse.  There is something uniquely powerful about the ability to establish a connection with such a large, sensitive animal.  Through use of the horse, group members will learn how to be assertive, confident leaders.  This group will utilize a combination of empirically validated Cognitive Behavioral and Dialectical Behavioral techniques, along with the horse, to help individuals build mastery over their lives while challenging negative beliefs.  It is open to girls ages 13-17.  No horse experience is necessary.  All sessions will be conducted from the ground.  Close-toed shoes required.

Mondays: 7 - 8:30 - Teen Boys Ages 13 -17

DBT for Strong-Willed/Defiant Teen Boys

The teenage years can be an incredibly stressful time for both teens and their parents.  Adolescents who struggle with the challenges of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD, and other behavioral issues often find it difficult to navigate their environment successfully while maintaining important relationships. This 8-week group combines Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, an empirically validated treatment for defiant teens, and equine therapy to help your teen learn prosocial behaviors.  The horse is an incredibly powerful and sensitive animal that only responds to respectful, confident interaction. Your teen will work with his equine partner to establish a healthy, cooperative relationship, building skills that can be utilized outside the barn as well.  Topics such as respect, communication, teamwork, leadership, empathy, and compassion will be at the forefront of each group. This group is 8-weeks long with each session running approximately 90 minutes and it is open to boys ages 13-17. No horse experience is required, as there will be no riding.  Sessions are conducted from the ground.  Close-toed shoes required.

October 2nd - November 20th

Tuesdays: 12:30 - 2 - Adult Mindfullness Ages 18 and up

Mindfulness for Adults

Mindfulness is a meditation based skill that has been found useful for a multitude of mental health issues.  The core premise involves becoming one with your environment and living mindfully in the present moment.  It can bring a sense of peace, belonging, and fulfillment to your life.  Join McCaskill Family Services at the Brighton Equestrian Club for this 8-week course combining mindfulness techniques and equine therapy.  Horses are peaceful animals by nature and respond to their environment and surroundings as each moment occurs.  Participants will learn how to become fully immersed in the present moment and partnership with their equine friends, effectively reducing the negative internal stimuli that play a part in depression and anxiety.  No horse experience is necessary, only an open mind and willing hands. Groups are 90 minutes long and open to ages 18 and above. Come join in the fun! Close-toed shoes required.

Tuesdays: 5 - 6:30 - Teen Girls Ages 13 - 17

DBT and CBT for Teen Girls

Do you have a teenage girl struggling with issues of depression, anxiety, self-esteem, or low self-confidence?  Equine therapy could be the answer.  This 8-week, 90-minute per session group is designed to help young girls gain confidence in themselves through building a relationship with the horse.  There is something uniquely powerful about the ability to establish a connection with such a large, sensitive animal.  Through use of the horse, group members will learn how to be assertive, confident leaders.  This group will utilize a combination of empirically validated Cognitive Behavioral and Dialectical Behavioral techniques, along with the horse, to help individuals build mastery over their lives while challenging negative beliefs.  It is open to girls ages 15-17.  No horse experience is necessary.  All sessions will be conducted from the ground.  Close-toed shoes required.

Tuesdays: 7 - 8:30 - Teen Boys Ages 13 - 17

DBT for Strong-Willed/Defiant Teen Boys

The teenage years can be an incredibly stressful time for both teens and their parents.  Adolescents who struggle with the challenges of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD, and other behavioral issues often find it difficult to navigate their environment successfully while maintaining important relationships.  This 8-week group combines Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, an empirically validated treatment for defiant teens, and equine therapy to help your teen learn prosocial behaviors.  The horse is an incredibly powerful and sensitive animal that only responds to respectful, confident interaction.  Your teen will work with his or her equine partner to establish a healthy, cooperative relationship, building skills that can be utilized outside the barn as well.  Topics such as respect, communication, teamwork, leadership, empathy, and compassion will be at the forefront of each group.  This group is 8-weeks long with each session running approximately 90 minutes and it is open to boys ages 13-17.  No horse experience is required, as there will be no riding.  Sessions are conducted from the ground.  Close-toed shoes required.

Each group runs for 8 weekly sessions for 90 minutes each session. Each 90 minute session is billed as a therapy session with a Licensed Ph.D. Psychologist. Insurance companies reimburse this the same way they do sessions in an office setting. So, if your insurance pays for out-of-providers, they will reimburse in a similar fashion for this too. We will provide you with receipts that you can submit to your insurance company.

10% discount available for members of The Brighton Equestrian Club and patients of McCaskill Family Services.

If you are interested in learning more about the individual and/or group therapy options available through the Equine Therapy Division of McCaskill Family Services, please contact us at our Brighton office location at (810) 224-1676.