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Horse-Powered Growth and Learning (horse-assisted programs)

Horse-Powered Growth and Learning isn't about riding horses or horsemanship. In fact, it doesn't involve riding at all.

Rather, it's about interacting with horses—and harnessing their incredible power to heal and teach.

Summit Psychological Services (SPS) is the only group psychotherapy practice in New Jersey to offer this unique, cutting-edge program, based on the models pioneered by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA):

Equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP)—Being in the presence of a horse can be surprisingly therapeutic. Horses instinctively perceive, and react to, our deepest feelings and fears; they mirror our subconscious in unexpected ways. During EAP, clients observe their interactions with horses and become aware of their hidden issues. As clients change, they see their horse "partners" change, too. People intimidated by horses can overcome their fears and develop confidence. Those with emotional wounds can build a trusting, safe relationship—perhaps for the first time. Children and teens turned off by the therapy office can benefit from a wonderful alternative. EAP can help treat trauma, abuse, depression, anxiety, anger, and addictions, among other problems. It can help clients develop confidence, self-esteem, and assertiveness.

Equine-assisted learning (EAL)—As a single horse mirrors an individual, so several horses mirror a group, giving real-time, objective feedback on interpersonal dynamics. For example, if a group of people are disorganized, their horse "partners" will be, too. During EAL, employees, organization members, and other groups perform tasks involving horses. Through the process, they learn team building, cooperation, communication, social skills, goal setting, and leadership. They learn how to improve relationships and how to tap individual strengths to achieve common goals.

Read "What If Your Solution Is A Horse! Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning" by SPS Director Alison Johnson, PsyD.

Therapy Horses

Horse-Powered programs

SPS offers these unique Horse Powered Growth and Learning programs. All are held at the beautiful Willow Pond Farm in Gillette, New Jersey.

  • Individual sessions
  • Couple sessions
  • Family sessions
  • Group sessions—EAP sessions customized to address any issue (for example, self-esteem, addiction, or parenting)
  • Hoof Print for Success—EAL sessions for organizations and companies, customized to teach any skill (for example, team building or leadership)

Horse-Powered team

  • Alison W. Johnson, PsyD, SPS Director, is an EAGALA Certified Equine Psychotherapist. She specializes in the treatment of children, adolescents, adults, addictions, eating disorders, depression, and women's issues. 
  • Sharon Mitchell, MSW, directs the therapeutic riding program at Willow Pond Farm. An EAGALA Certified Equine Specialist and PATH International (formerly NARHA) Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, she has more than 40 years of professional and recreational experience with horses. She was nationally recognized for program design implementation in the field of social work, and she is an Authorized Provider for the New Jersey Department of Developmental Disabilities.
  • Michael Goldman, LCSW, SPS psychotherapist, is an EAGALA Certified Equine Psychotherapist. He has extensive experience treating children—including those with emotional disturbances and special needs—and helping their families.
  • The horses at Willow Pond Farm.


482 Springfield Avenue
P: (908) 273-5558
F: (908) 273-3355
94 Valley Road
P: (973) 857-8857
F: (908) 273-3355

Summit Psychological Services, P.A.
Jeffrey S. Kahn, PhD, CGP, DABPS, Managing Director
Alison W. Johnson, PsyD, Director