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Horses are animals that are preyed upon and as such are hypervigilant in their environments. This hypervigilance translates into the ability to sense and tune into non-verbal cues. One horse’s tiny flick of an ear can cue an entire herd to be on alert. Even though horses have been domesticated for centuries, this ability remains in their DNA.
Horses are also able to sense the energy and emotions of humans that are conveyed through non-verbal communication. Horses will reflect back what they are sensing through their behaviours—without judgment. With this honest and immediate feedback, people can begin to deepen their understanding of themselves and identify areas for growth.
How horses help
Horses are large and powerful, and create a natural opportunity for participants to overcome fear and develop self-confidence. Horses have unique personalities, moods, and attitudes, which makes them perfectly suited to metaphorical learning. Participants can take the experiences they have with the horses and apply them to different situations in their lives.
Through experiences with the horses during H.E.L.P. retreats, participants are provided with opportunities to discover new ways of approaching life and connecting with the self and others. Participants will leave the program with a broader view of their recovery needs and future well-being.
Partnering with horses in therapy can help participants to learn about themselves, process thoughts and emotions, and influence change in an engaging and active way. Establishing relationships with horses allows for a non-threatening and non-judgmental way to develop solutions to problems and discover strategies that help in the healing process.
What we do
Heroes Equine Learning Program (H.E.L.P.) is a not-for-profit charitable organization facilitating Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Personal Development retreats for Military service members, First Responders (active or retired), and their families affected by post-traumatic stress and operational stress injuries.
H.E.L.P. retreats are confidential and offered to small groups over four-days. Retreats include all meals, accommodations, and transportation between facilities where programming is carried out. H.E.L.P. retreats are facilitated in various locations across Canada. Please visit our website or contact us for more information about our retreat locations.
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Personal Development follows the EAGALA (Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning Association) Model and is facilitated by a team of an Equine Specialist and a Mental Health Professional. All therapy is carried out from the ground and involves no horseback riding.
This video will demonstrate what an Equine Assisted Psychotherapy session might look like.
Who is H.E.L.P. for?
H.E.L.P. is for service members of the military, police, fire, corrections, EMS, and 911 dispatchers and their partners/support persons and families who are affected by post-traumatic stress and operational stress injuries.
The program is focused on providing the highest standard of Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy for participants. Participants will also have the opportunity to engage in mind-body movement modalities and to reflect and recharge during free time. The program activities and facilities are located in a country setting and create an ideal environment in which to lower stress, renew hope, and regain a sense of meaning and belonging.
The H.E.L.P program has three parts:
* Part One:
For participants to understand the impact of invisible wounds and consider strategies for better functioning in life.
* Part Two:
For partners or support persons to understand participants’ needs and to enhance support within the relationship.
* Part Three:
For families to have experiences alongside the participant. This enables the family to grow and provides a safe space for adjusting needs.
Private donors and community support fund H.E.L.P. retreats. With greater support from donors and communities, H.E.L.P. is able to expand the number of host facilities and optimize recovery and healing of affected and wounded members. Through this support, H.E.L.P. retreats are offered at a fragment of the total cost.
The participant is responsible for paying the registration cost of the retreat. A total charge of either $150, $200, or $300 will be charged to the card based on the Part to which the applicant is applying to. The total cost of registration for Part 1 is $150, Part 2 is $200, and Part 3 is $300. Please note, the registration cost will only be charged to the card provided on the application once attendance to a H.E.L.P. program is confirmed. This charge will occur approximately 30-days prior to the start of the program. Refunds are not eligible after 30-days of retreat dates.
The application process requires the application to complete a form which can be found on the home page of this website. It is important the application be sure the form is completed. A fully completed form consists of pages 1-2 (for Part 1), pages 1-3 (for Part 2), and pages 1-5 (for Part 3). A fully complete application form also consists of a referral letter from a current member of the applicants mental health team which can include any professional in the mental health field (i.e., psychologist, psychotherapist, social worker, etc.). Once a completed application is provided by the applicant to the organization, it will be presented to the board to ensure the attendance of the individual to a program would be therapeutically beneficial. The applicant will be contacted with the Board of Directors’ decision shortly after the application is completed.
As mentioned above, a fully completed application must include a referral letter from a current member of the applicants mental health team. The referral letter must state the agreement of the mental health professional for the applicant to attend the program, and that the mental health professional is in support of the member to participate in a H.E.L.P. Retreat. It must also confirm the symptoms experienced by the applicant ranges from mild to moderate post-traumatic stress. Any application without a referral letter will not be considered as complete and will not be eligible for a full registration of the program.