You Make A Pretty Good Therapist, For A Horse...

Published: 07 April 2017

glenn mackintosh equine therapy the biggest loser

Glenn Mackintosh finds equine inspiration in his latest Mind Health coaching session.

“Horses? Like the animal?”
Had Libby worked a little too hard in her last tabata workout? Because she seemed to be suggesting we do equine therapy in one of our Mind Health Sessions…

But she was serious.

Lib had heard of a therapy that used horses, and thought it was a fascinating approach with the potential to be transformational for the contestants.

“I’m really not sure about what it all involves… I’ve never really heard of it.”

Am I really going to consider this? Will I be co-facilitating a session with Mr. Ed? I can hear the Australian Psychological Society calling…

I decided to look into it. I started to look at YouTube videos of EAL, and was impressed with the work. And after talking with EAL facilitator Jackie Smith, I was in.

 The contestants were going to meet the horses…

The topic we chose for Mind Health Session 4 was one very close to my heart: “Zooming out” from the scales and focusing on the whole person. We talked about the popular myth that weight loss fixes everything, and the hard reality that we needed to work on personal issues directly rather than assuming losing weight will solve them all. We needed to go a little deeper. I knew this would be hard for the contestants, so I decided to open up and share my own personal struggle* to get the ball rolling. I felt grateful the contestants bravely went there with me, and we spent sacred time discussing their deepest personal barriers, which we would then address in two exercises with the horses.

Here we go…

Horses really are magical creatures. They don’t know about your personal struggles, the baggage in your head, or the limitations you place on your future. They just respond to you in the now – your body-language, your tone of voice, your energy. And with the support of a skilled EAL facilitator like Jackie, they are a powerful learning tool. The contestants learned about so many things that were important for them as unique individuals, not just as people who were striving for physical transformations, but more importantly, as people. There was an eerily spiritual energy around our time with the horses, and I knew right away that this was some of the most transformational work we’d done together. I had moved from doubter to convert in a few short hours.

So it turns out horses can be pretty great therapists. I don’t know how I feel about that! What I do know is that it was a real honour to share that day walking part of the journey with some truly special people…

*Being a psychologist, of course, does not exclude you from being human, and we all have problems, right?

Glenn Mackintosh is the founder of Weight Management Psychology. To find out more about how psychology can transform your eating, movement, weight and body image, visit weightmanagementpsychology.com.au