Richard Bland begins equine therapy program
This spring semester, Richard Bland College introduced an equine therapy program to assist students interested in counseling.
“This is sort of a unique niche in behavioral sciences that, I think, would be a great thing for a student to have in his or her portfolio,” says Barbara Morgan, an associate professor of psychology at the college.
She will teach the equine therapy certificate program, which is aimed at developing a special skill set for future psychologists, teachers and counselors.
Richard Bland is a two-year, residential junior college in Petersburg that prepares students for academic transfer. This fall, the college enrolled about 1,500 full-time students.
The college’s equine therapy program is based on a model developed by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA). According to the group’s website, equine-assisted psychotherapy involves using activities with horses to promote assertiveness, leadership, creative thinking and problem solving. For example, participants may use props to build an obstacle, which they then have to lead horses through.
In threading the obstacle course, they will pick up and react to “whatever energy or vibe that [their handlers are] giving off,” Morgan says. In addition to being used as a learning tool, the training can be used to address mental health issues such as eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
Morgan points out that the certificate is an introduction to equine therapy and will not mean graduates are EAGALA-certified psychotherapists.
“It’s sort of like minoring at a four-year-college in something,” Morgan says. “This is giving you an introduction to a skill set that you can then later build on when you get your license, and then you can become certified to do this.”
She says courses for the program will be offered over two semesters. Training will take place at a Richard Bland College farm property, about one mile from campus.