FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is EAP?
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) offers experiential psychotherapy sessions to diagnosed or diagnosable clients. Natural horse and herd behavior are observed and honored as a model for healthful human behavior. Equine-assisted exercises are designed to elicit metaphors and self-awareness. These exercises help clients recognize their own behaviors and patterns and create their own solutions. The term Equine Assisted Psychotherapy was coined by Greg Kersten in the early 1990s to describe the exercises he created to work with at-risk and incarcerated youth. The field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy continues to grow and adapt to every type of psychotherapy client.
What is EAL?
Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) offers experiential communication, teambuilding, and personal growth experiences to individuals, groups, families, and corporations. Equine nonverbal communication, herd behavior, and equine development demonstrate successful interaction as an example for human relations. Equine Assisted Learning is a valuable component of corporate retreats, church group activities, and family growth seminars. EAL is not psychotherapy and does not require facilitation by a licensed mental health professional.
Who is doing EAP and EAL?
Individuals certified in EAP and EAL by Greg Kersten are successfully implementing his equine-assisted philosophies worldwide. It is recommended that EAP be facilitated by a team consisting of a licensed mental health professional and an experienced horse professional. While it is possible for a licensed therapist with significant horse knowledge to facilitate EAP sessions solo, it is not optimal for observation, objectivity, safety, and support. The "team approach" is also recommended in the practice of EAL, with at least one of the facilitators being an experienced horse professional. A licensed therapist is not required to facilitate EAL. While it is possible for someone with significant horse knowledge to facilitate EAL sessions solo, it is not optimal for observation, objectivity, safety, and support.
What does it mean to be certified in EAP & EAL?
Since giving a name to his exercises and philosophies in the 1990s, Greg Kersten has certified professionals in the fields of EAP and EAL. Since that time and to this day, other organizations have arisen that have chosen to use the same terminology for certification programs that differ widely in philosophy, programming, and regulation. Absolutely no certification is required to practice EAP or EAL. Licensed psychotherapists can practice EAP (or whatever they may choose to call it) without ever having been certified by an organization that sells certification. Anyone at all can practice EAL (or whatever they may choose to call it) without ever having been certified by an organization that sells certification. At a minimum, being certified in EAP or EAL by the O.K. Corral means that you have participated in formal training including hands-on exercises, underlying philosophies, and the use of metaphors in correlating equine and human behavior. You also have the support of a network of practitioners and the O.K. Corral staff who believe it is beneficial for all of us to help one another prosper in the equine-assisted fields.
What does it cost to be certified in EAP & EAL?
The standard rate for one, three-day certification seminar is $1275 US. The seminar fee includes lunches, snacks, and training materials. Discounts are available for early registration and groups. For more information, click on the link to the "Registration" page above. After being certified, all additional seminars are available at a reduced rate.
May I audit or simply observe a seminar for a reduced price?
Auditing rates are not offered for O.K. Corral Series seminars for a couple of reasons: O.K. Corral seminars are powerful, and even life-changing, for many participants due to the personal investment the participant gives to the seminar and the other participants. Being present, sharing insights, volunteering for demonstrations, and becoming a team with seminar cohorts creates a sense of familiarity and safety unique to each seminar. We feel that this "emotional safety" would be compromised by allowing less-invested spectators into the experience. We truly believe that the value of the O.K. Corral Series seminars lies in the information that is instructed during the seminar, rather than the certificate that is awarded at the end of the three days. For that reason, it would not be fair to the seminar participants to offer a reduced rate to those who do everything but invest of themselves during the seminar.
What are the differences among the certifying organizations?
In 1999, Greg Kersten founded a nonprofit organization called the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), and in 2006, he created The O.K. Corral Series, LLC. These dramatically different organizations certify the majority of equine-assisted professionals worldwide.
Cost is one main difference between The O.K. Corral Series and EAGALA. Even before their recent rate hikes, certification with EAGALA meant you would need to pay them money on a regular basis for the rest of your life, or lose your certification. The O.K. Corral Series certification is viewed as a degree that is yours to keep once you have met the education requirements, as opposed to a license that you must earn and pay for year after year.
Two other differences in these organizations involve the actual practice of EAP and EAL. While the O.K. Corral always recommends a team of two professionals to facilitate equine-assisted work, it does not sanction or expel practitioners who choose to practice solo.
Additionally, in 2006, EAGALA chose to prohibit mounted activities in equine-assisted work. True to his vision, Greg Kersten and the O.K. Corral Series believe in the value of certain mounted exercises and teach them at certification seminars.
As you can see, the main purpose of the O.K. Corral Series is to educate professionals. It is our position that it is not ethically sound for the same organization to offer both education and regulation, and to earn money from both aspects.
We encourage you to contact any organization directly with any programmatic questions you may have.
Why should I be certified in EAP & EAL by the O.K. Corral?
The O.K. Corral Series is the only certification program endorsed and taught by the Founder of the field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Rather than learning from Greg Kersten's former students, or their students, you will be educated in equine-assisted philosophy by the person who is credited for naming the field to describe his work and philosophies.
The O.K. Corral Series views its certification as a degree, rather than a license that has to be re-earned year after year. After successful completion of one certification seminar, there are no ongoing requirements or moneys to be paid to maintain the knowledge you have already acquired.
The O.K. Corral offers continuing education units to many professionals for their certification in EAP/EAL. Typically, professionals earn 24 clock hours of continuing education for each O.K. Corral seminar they succesfully complete.
All of the exercises and philosophies taught in O.K. Corral Series seminars are based on and related back to natural horse and herd behavior. After all, this is how the field arose! The O.K. Corral teaches more than psychotherapy with horses in the background - at the O.K. Corral you learn the value of the horses in the process from Greg Kersten whose expertise and experience with horses will not be lost on you. Concepts like Pressure/Pain, Attention/At Ease, Re-Circle, and the Relationship Zones, to name a few, are based on natural equine behavior and have profound applications to our human lives.
The O.K. Corral Series is the only certifying body that actually encourages professionals to move forward, and even offer seminars in their own specialties. Seminars in "Riding Assisted Philosophy" and Faith-Based EAP/EAL have been created by folks who earned their certification form the O.K. Corral Series.
Do I have to be a therapist to be certified in EAP & EAL?
In a word, no. Professionals who are certified in EAP and EAL are able to provide Equine Assisted Learning sessions. In order to offer Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, one must be a licensed mental health professional. It is common for folks who are not therapists to partner with licensed mental health professionals in their treatment of clients using EAP.
Are there any prerequisites to attend and O.K. Corral Certification Seminar?
There are no educational or physical requirements to attending a certification seminar. Seminar participants are invited to participate in the seminar as much as they are able, and arrangements can be made for most everyone to participate.
Do I need to have special insurance to provide EAP & EAL?
Whenever you offer equine-assisted services, it is a good idea to have liability insurance. We usually recommend at least $1,000,000 in coverage. This would be in addition to malpractice insurance that should be carried by licensed mental health professionals in the case of EAP. These days, liability coverage is easy to find, and ranges from about $80-$200/month for premiums. Typically, the more familiar your insurer is with EAP/EAL, the more reasonable your rates will be.
How do I know what exercises to do with my EAP & EAL clients?
Another advantage of certification with the O.K. Corral is that you are taught and actually experience several tried and true exercises during your training. Almost any activity in which movement, nonverbal communication, and an overt goal are present tends to produce useful metaphors. Remember not only is an exercise NOT about the overt goal, it's not even about the exercise. Feel free to experiment on your own, create exercises, observe, and stay out of the way of the process.