Sarah suffers from severe depression and has had suicidal tendencies. She believes this stems from her upbringing in a repressive and authoritarian religious community, an upbringing she now sees as being abusive. In addition to depression, her past has created problems in her relationships.
She has undertaken a number of therapies over the years to try to deal with her problems, including psychotherapy and counselling of several different types, but none have been particularly effective. She met Selina on a course, during which they discussed Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) and Sarah decided to try it. She had six hour long sessions, each one week apart, which she describes as “utterly remarkable”.
During the sessions, after a short discussion with Selina, she got to know the horses and developed a role play exercise during which each horse represented a person in Sarah’s life. She did this herself, based on what she had come to know about each horse, and how that related to key individuals in her life. She felt “extraordinarily loved by the horses” and that they were very “tuned in” to her. She found the experience calming, and it helped her to connect with her life in a way that she hadn’t been able to do before. The interactions between the horses and between Sarah and the horses gave her an insight into the relationships with which she was struggling.
Sarah describes the horses as having a sixth sense, which they used to play out the relationships in Sarah’s life. She is uncertain to what extent she was projecting this behaviour on them, but feels that the process of interpreting their behaviour was extremely helpful to her regardless. In her words: “every session blew me away, with the amount of insight it generated in me”. In addition she felt connected to and loved by the horses which in itself she found very helpful, and different to other interactions she has had with pets throughout her life, particularly cats and dogs. “The horses are different. They seem a lot more intelligent. They seem like, if they could talk, they’d have a really good conversation with you. I don’t feel that way about the dog. They have more depth, more intuition.”
Sarah describes her depression as a journey, which she is coming out of. She says her suicidal feelings reduced considerably during her EAT, and she no longer feels that way. She describes EAT as being a key part of her journey out of depression and enthusiastically recommends it to others facing similar issues.