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Gentle giants help children in Bedfordshire to cope and recover

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.’ – Winston Churchill

Five children from Bedfordshire are the first to complete a pilot Equine Assisted Psychotherapy programme designed to support young victims of crime.

The three week programme of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy was delivered at CANter in Gravenhurst and led by Suzanne Adamthwaite, a qualified EAGALA Equine Specialist and Denise Sadleir, an EAGALA certified MBACP Accredited Counsellor & Psychotherapist. 

The CANter programme uses the EAGALA model to help build confidence, self-esteem, growth and development whist facing challenge or change. It’s a distinctive framework which allows children to discover, learn and grow from the horse-human relationship. Horses are used as metaphors helping children access their own solutions to change. 

Using the horses as a tool for emotional growth and learning the CANter programme covers important topics such as respect, responsibility, relationships, boundaries and trust. 

CANter facilitator Suzanne Adamthwaite said: ‘We really enjoyed working with Embrace and watching the children change through the programme was very powerful. One of the children told me she had told one of the horses something she had never told anyone else…. I replied that the horse is great at listening and she keeps secrets safe.’

This summer children’s charity Embrace Child Victims of Crime (CVoC) offered Equine Assisted Psychotherapy to clients in Bedfordshire as part of a range of services to help support children that have suffered trauma due to serious crime. 

Embrace CVoC is the only children’s charity in the country solely focused on providing care and support for children who have been victims of crime, offering counselling, practical and well-being support.

The charity’s first Equine Assisted Psychotherapy programme took place during September and gave the group of five children, aged between 12 and 17, the chance to use horse-based therapy to help them heal.

After completing the three week programme one child said: ‘I have felt better about myself and more able to open up and be myself’

One also parent said: ‘My son has thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to have some quiet time for reflection in an environment that he has felt exceptionally comfortable in. Being around animals is definitely my son’s happy place!’

‘he has realised the importance of taking a bit of time each day to think about how he’s feeling and why and how he can move forward to make those feelings positive.’

Feedback from both children and parents at the end of the programme show that, in the vast majority of cases, they feel more confident, better able to manage their feelings, happier, and that the programme has helped them to build new friendships and has a positive impact on the their mental well-being. 

For more information about services and fund-raising opportunities with Embrace please visit