A Helping Hoof
Using Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy to Bring Veterans Home From the War


Divorce is never pretty.So what is Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy?

EFP is a specialized program using horses as the medium for therapy. Rather than sitting in a traditional office setting, therapy takes place in a field, round pen, barn, or arena. The primary interactions ocur between the individual or group members and one or more horses through "ground work". Ground work is a process of familiarizing the horse with people, and their expectations, and familiarizing people with the horse and the horse's expectations. Groundwork usually does not include riding the horse. aw

The horses use their unique view of the world to help people discover their strengths and and uncover areas which need development. Out of survival, the horses can sense feelings of which the client is not even aware. The horse/human interaction is guided by Dr. Laurie Sullivan-Sakaeda, owner operator of A Helping Hoof. Dr. Laurie, as her friends call her, is a licensed psychologist.

Veterans and Horses

Veterans and HorsesVeterans and horses often find themselves in sync with each other. Both can be slow to trust and both sometime live in a high alert status with an increased level of anxiety. There is a need to be very careful and aware of the environment. In spite of the similarities, horses can teach about trusting again. Horses also provide support and help develop a sense of calm. When bonding to another person seems overwhelming, horses can provide a bridge for learning to re-connect. EFP can also help families learn to communicate and face difficult issues related to re-entry.

Glen Barrus, peer support specialist for Equine assisted therapyEd note: I'm embarrassed that I've neglected to point out the fact that A Helping Hoof takes full advantage of Veterans peer support. A major plus of A Helping Hoof therapy is Veteran Glen Barrus, of Grantsville, UT. Glen is an avid horseman and trainer of horses and Veterans. Sorry Glen, no disrespect intended.

Why a Horse?

Bob Learns from SuzieHorses were traditionally used as beasts of burden and for transportaion. Now in many places around the world they are sport animals. Whatever the regular job, horses are often seen as connections to the spiritual world and as reflections of ourselves. They teach self respect, caring and are also very giving and forgiving.


Sessions include grooming, handling and group exercises. They are calming and or energizing. They can make people laugh and cry, and can lead to finding the soul inside. Sessions are available for individuals, groups, and families. Fees are assessed on a sliding scale.


Horses are the Therapists

A sweet mustangWithout these special horses this incredible healing work could not be accomplished. The horses vary in age, size, and breed. Included in the herd are Mustangs who previously lived in the wild.

The therapy horses are enthusiastic participants who seem to be aware of the sweet service they provide Veterans, as well as other trauma survivors. The horses are not only aware of what is happening in the Veteran's heart and mind, they accept the Veteran where they are, while pointing the way to more satisfying alternatives.

It is accurately said, "One hour in the field with the horse is worth six hours on the couch with a shrink." Horses are amazingly accurate BS detectors. They can teach Veterans to recognize, and deal with, self defeating behaviors and attitudes.


Find out more:

Dr. Laurie Sullivan-Sakaeda

Laurie Sullivan-Sakaeda, PhD is a Licensed psychologist with over 15 years experience on the Salt Lake City area. She specializes in work with children, adolescents, substance abuse, and surviors of trauma.

Contact Dr. Sullivan at 801-915-5019 or LSSak@mindspring.com





Editors Note: Recovery, as we define it, goes way beyond learning to cope with the Veteran's "incurable mental illness"! Recovery is helping every member of the Veteran's family to recover mental wellness. A major tool of recovery is helping other troubled families to do the same. We want families to know JOY. We strongly suggest that Veterans and their families contact Dr Laurie and talk to her about Your potential to benefit from Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy.

Contact Dr. Sullivan at 801-915-5019 or LSSak@mindspring.com