Dr. Allan Hamilton
Spirituality in Medicine

  Equine Assisted Therapy

 

 

Allan with horseHorses as Healers

Throughout history, horses and humans have had a special relationship. Now, numerous studies have been done to show the effective treatment of a wide range of conditions such as anxiety, autism, dementia, depression and attention-deficit disorder, as well as eating disorders and other emotional and mental illnesses through the use of Equine Assisted Therapy. Allan, along with his wife Dr. Jane Hamilton Ph.D. a clinical psychologist, have developed horsemanship programs at their facility, Rancho Bosque, on the outskirts of Tucson. The couple has developed the largest national program for employing groundwork with horses as part of the rehabilitation of youths from the juvenile justice system. This program encompassed facilities in six states and training more than two hundred staff members with more than 300 different horses. It has been used in the treatment of more than 4,000 juvenile delinquents to date. Drs. Hamilton have applied equine-assisted therapy and learning for adults and children, cancer patients and survivors as well as participants from industry and healthcare. Dr Hamilton is the originator of an innovative class for medical students that expands their use of non-verbal communication to improve their diagnostic skills and their bed side manner.

Dr. Hamilton was the first American to be invited to exhibit his equine-assisted training methods at the Irish National Racing Academy and Education Center. In July 2008, the author was invited to address the both houses of the Irish Parliament on the promotion of equine-assisted therapy (EAT) and learning (EAL) in the Republic of Ireland to help rescue thoroughbred race horses and supply trained horses for EAL for the national public schools and institutions for special needs children.

 

Dr. Hamilton's work as a horseman has been featured in Western Horseman, Equus, Horse and Rider, Practical Horseman, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Therapy, and the British Medical Journal. The author’s training methods have been televised for Arizona Illustrated-TV and The Discovery Channel and profiled on PBS, CNN, and NBC television.

 

Negotiating the labrynth

Horses Helping to Heal Cancer Patients

Cancer not only assaults the body but also lays siege to the heart and mind. Having a positive attitude, relying on one’s own spiritual and emotional strength, assembling loved ones to provide positive energy while rejecting negative situations that sap one’s strength are all integral parts of becoming a "cancer warrior".

The Hamiltons have pioneered a program specifically addressing the challenges facing cancer patients, survivors and their families that uses horses to make dramatic breakthroughs in awareness, and to facilitate life altering changes. Having helped hundreds of participants, the program has been featured on CNBC, Anderson Cooper’s 360, and PBS.

Fear, anxiety, hopelessness, lack of focus, anger, victimization, are issues we all deal with in life that are brought to heightened awareness when one is battling cancer. The horse is such an effective tool for allowing us to see our inner emotional state and come face to face with these emotions. Horses react to our energy projections and to our intentions. Working with them on them through a series of excesses, the participants learn to adjust their emotional responses. By receiving immediate feedback, the right balance of energy and effort is found. The cancer survivors are emboldened by examples of how clarity of intention produce a desired outcome. This awareness is an empowering and healing breakthrough.

After a session with the horses, the group breaks for a discussion which allows the participants and volunteers to explore and share what was experienced. It is through these discussions that the life lessons are realized. The experiences with the horses are seen to mirror relationships. They are metaphors for every day life. They give insights on coping with health and recovery issues.

 

Non-Verbal Communication Skills

Horses are the masters of communication without words. The Hamiltons have developed programs to teach non-verbal communication skills to people through working with the horses. Seminars like "From Round Pen to Boardroom: Learn to Harness the Power of Non-Verbal Communication" teach executives, health care professionals and industry leaders how to be more aware of the communication going on all around us that we ordinarily ignore.

These programs focus on how to ensure we demonstrate integrity; namely, that our words and our bodies send the same message and how to make all communication more effective and powerful.

equine assisted therapy session

 

Eighty percent of human communication is non-verbal and we spend almost of our attention on the spoken language.

 

 

 

 

 

Seminars for EAT training

The Hamiltons also provide training for psychologists, counselors, social workers, and therapists who want to add Equine Assisted Therapy to their programs. Participants become fluent in the use of sixteen separate exercises and techniques that can be employed in standard EAT sessions.

 

Learn more about the Equine Programs at Rancho Bosque

 

 

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