An experienced therapist from Los Angeles, Bernadine Fried offers equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EFP) to her patients, as well as equine-facilitated learning (EFL). These modalities have improved results for numerous clients as they acquire coping skills necessary for addiction recovery. Below, Bernadine Fried explains how she came to recognize the tremendous impact of equine on her valued clients.
Community Blog Online: Hello, Bernadine. It’s great to have you here to share your knowledge of this subject.
Bernadine Fried: Thank you. I’m glad to get the word out about these two emerging forms of therapy.
Community Blog Online: Where are horses most pivotal in addiction therapy?
Bernadine Fried: The horse has proven to be a beneficial partner in helping therapists in their EFL and EFP work.
Community Blog Online: Who sets the standards for equine therapy?
Bernadine Fried: EGALA and Path International provide a wealth of information for therapists who employ either one of these disciplines.
Community Blog Online: What makes horses so beneficial to this process?
Bernadine Fried: Horses are known universally as sensitive creatures. As a result, they have heightened emotional responses to people in close proximity. We observe the dynamic between the horse and the individual(s).
Community Blog Online: What kind of information is drawn from these interactions?
Bernadine Fried: Both parties – client and therapist – can learn much about the nuance of mood changes.
Community Blog Online: For example…?
Bernadine Fried: When a client seems stressed and nervous, the horse takes that information and responds accordingly. When the client exhibits a sense of calm and relaxation, the horse reacts differently.
Community Blog Online: How does that serve as a jumping-off point?
Bernadine Fried: A horse’s reactions to a client’s emotional state can help reduce the defensive walls that often surround people in early recovery.
Community Blog Online: What’s the primary role of the horse in EFL and EFP?
Bernadine Fried: The horse serves as a communicative tool, offering valuable information to both therapist and client.
Community Blog Online: Without the ability to speak, how can horses communicate with humans?
Bernadine Fried: Horses must use non-verbal modes of communication in order to share their emotions. Learning how to communicate non-verbally can be extremely helpful for the client.
Community Blog Online: In what way?
Bernadine Fried: No matter the mode of communication, the client sees that he or she is having an impact on the lives of those around them.
Community Blog Online: What are the most vital characteristics of these therapy sessions, in your opinion?
Bernadine Fried: A keen sense of awareness is crucial. It’s common for both therapist and client to be wholly attentive at all times. This can help the client to stay in the present.
Community Blog Online: Where do some therapists fail in their practice of equine therapy?
Bernadine Fried: It is important to create a safe and engaging environment for the clients and the horses. We care for horses and give them lots of love. We make sure the clients have as much fun as we can. Many people don’t know that the clients do not ride the horses.
Community Blog Online: Once again, it’s been wonderful to have you here. Thanks for sharing this insight with us.
Bernadine Fried: My pleasure!
A longtime resident of southern California, Bernadine Fried is the founder of Wonderland EPA, a recovery center that offers clients a nurturing environment in which to recover from addiction and trauma. Bernadine Fried and Wonderland EPA are at the forefront of the therapy profession as a result of their efforts to achieve more productive results for their clients.