Bullying and Equine Therapy
Hello! I’m Rose Battista, a new volunteer at Berkshire Horseworks from Miss Hall’s School. I plan on writing blogs on recent discoveries about mental health ,development and teambuilding in hopes we at BHW can be of some help.
Social, verbal and physical bullying throughout elementary, middle, and high school has been at the forefront of many people’s minds. Sadly, it is not something that will go away quickly or easily. Bullying goes much deeper than it can seem. According to a recent article entitled “Experts: Bullying Partly Driven by Development, Self-regulation,” bullying of young children from their peers can stem from a variety of things ranging from rapid changes in school or family situations to general power imbalance because of disparity in perceived privilege. No one wants to be the victim of bullying and many try to find solutions to the problem. There are times that the policies put in place to prevent bullying do more to harm than to help. The idea of a “zero-tolerance” expulsion policy may seem like a good plan; however, the article referenced above says that bullying may be an “indicator of other behavioral issues for children who could continue to benefit from positive interaction with other students and adults at school” instead of immediate expulsion or suspension. I actually agree with the latter statement. If a child is automatically expelled it prevents the opportunity to fully excel and give him/her a chance to evolve and forge new connections.
Through EAGALA Model equine assisted psychotherapy and life skill development practiced here at Berkshire HorseWorks and in 50 countries around the world, bullies can see the immediate result of their actions. Since horses feel no need to hide their reactions or to put on a brave face, they will show a very genuine response if someone tries to communicate with them through yelling or bullying. Horses will mirror behavior of the person in the arena whether it is positive or negative. Horses are intuitive and non judgmental but they are also prey animals so they need to know in any given moment whether they can trust you. Because of this the horse then becomes a metaphor for either the interactions between a bully and a person being bullied or just the object of the bullying. This experiential learning will enable the bully to actually see and feel the impact of his or her behavior on others, and according to Aspen Education, “recognize their own dysfunctional behavior”. This modality helps them find a more positive way to communicate and interact with peers.
The Newnan Times-Herald. (2018). Experts: Bullying partly driven by development, self-regulation. http://times-herald.com/news/2018/10/experts-bullying-partly-driven-by-development-self-regulation [Accessed 9 Oct. 2018].
Aspeneducation.crchealth.com. (2018). How Horses Help Kids with Emotional & Behavioral Issues | Aspen Education Programs. https://aspeneducation.crchealth.com/articles/article-equine-therapy/ [Accessed 9 Oct. 2018].