Local man Andrew Abbott has combined his love for horses with his career as a counsellor and is now offering support services through animal-assisted therapy.
Bundaberg Equine Assisted Therapy and Counselling Services was established earlier this year and features eight horses and a donkey as part of the team.
The business provides a mixture of therapy and learning programs, counselling services, behavioural support for teenagers, coaching classes and more.
“Equine Assisted Therapy brings people outside the normal clinical setting into the great Australian outdoors, giving our clients the opportunity to use all their senses while learning and processing through their emotional challenges,” Andrew said.
“Our team consists of eight horses, a donkey and we are in the process of including the addition of some baby goats, alpacas and a calf to enhance the animal assisted therapy.
“Our service has the flexibility to evolve with the participants needs and demands which can range from mental health, capacity building, life skills, behavioural therapy and assisted learning.”
Andrew said there were many benefits to equine assisted therapy and the program was equally effective with children and teens as it was with adults.
“Children and adults alike can experience challenges such as trauma, anxiety, depression, PTSD and much more,” he said.
“Equine assisted therapy offers a safe space for people to explore deep emotional hurts and painful experiences, offering an environment to openly share their thoughts.
“Having the horse present can offer a sense of peace without the threat of bias or judgment of their emotional experiences.
“The simple acts of caring and nurturing something else can also help build empathy.”
Andrew said he had many years experience within the field of counselling and was proud to be able to combine his love for horses with his new business to help those in need.
“I have worked closely with a local Bundaberg psychologist for the past 15 years, five of those while Manager of the Btransformed Gym, working with clients to manage their physical, emotional and weight loss journeys,” he said.
“Counselling was a natural progression for me, I am also a counsellor with the Phoenix House child, youth and family counselling team providing community counselling and support services to people affected by a range of traumatic life events.
“I have now been able to combine the two loves of my life, helping people and sharing my love for my horses, through Bundaberg Equine Assisted Therapy and Counselling Services.”
Andrew said what he loved most about his work was being able to offer a space where people and animals could connect.
“As a counsellor you strive to learn from those with lived experience in order to develop a different perspective and understanding of individual needs,” he said.
“I have witnessed so many positive stories when you add a horse into the lives of people who are struggling with difficult aspects of their life.”
To find out more about Bundaberg Equine Assisted Therapy and Counselling Services contact Andrew on 0428 942 009 or click here for more information.
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