The Difference Between Therapy and Coaching

“Oh, so you help people with disabilities to ride horses, right?”

“Oh, so you do psychotherapy with horses, right?”

“Oh, so you take your dog to hospitals to help those sick people feel better, right?”

I get asked these kinds of questions a lot. And it makes sense that I would, because people are certainly more familiar with equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP), hippotherapy and therapy dogs than they are with equine facilitated experiential learning (EFEL) or coaching, in general.

But there is a huge difference between these types of services. And there is an important place for each one in our lives, depending on what we are needing in that moment. So, let’s try to sort this all out.

Here are some definitions for types of therapy and coaching:

  • Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) – both part of the EAGALA method – “incorporate horses experientially for emotional growth and learning.  it is a collaborative effort between a licensed therapist and a horse professional working with the clients and horses to address treatment goals.”
  • Hippotherapy is a “treatment wherein specially trained physical, occupational and speech therapists help clients who have movement dysfunction by riding horses.”
  • Therapeutic horseback riding is used to teach riding skills to people with disabilities. It can be “beneficial for children and adults who present with any of a wide range of cognitive, physical, and emotional conditions.”
  • Therapy dogs are specially “trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, people with learning difficulties, and stressful situations, such as disaster areas.”
  • Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL) is an “approach to teaching and learning, where the horses play a central role in human personal growth and development.”
  • According to Wikipedia, coaching is the “practice of supporting an individual through the process of achieving a specific personal or professional result.”

Still with me?


Now that we have the classroom part out of the way, let’s get to the fun part… 🙂

So what type of coaching do you use?

What I do is really a hybrid of EFEL and coaching. My goal is not to offer therapy or to heal anyone. I don’t focus on problems, but I do help people to solve them by holding space for them to find their own solutions, their own answers. I believe that we all have this knowing, but – for a variety of reasons – have forgotten how to use it. My purpose, my mission, my ultimate passion in life is to give a path for people to restore that connection to their wisdom, their own guiding light.

I love that we have so many resources available to us these days! There have been times in my life when I’ve really benefited from therapy and counseling. Other times, having access to coaching and a personal growth facilitator catapulted my success and joy to a whole new level. Neither is better than the other. They are different tools that are appropriate in different circumstances, in the same way that a hammer and a broom are both useful tools, but you wouldn’t sweep the floor with a hammer or hang a painting on your wall with a broom.

In future articles, I’ll talk more about how the law of attraction plays into this discussion and why working with animals is so helpful in creating your dream life.

I hope this helped to clarify for you what I do and what the differences are between these different types of services. Let me know if you have any questions about this or any other related topic.

Image: Ambro /