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Kimberly Houk ReportingParents and therapists from all over the nation are in Utah County for the next three days learning how horses can be used in mental therapy. Trainers say horses can teach people a lot about themselves just by mirroring their behaviors.
Wende Burgeson came all the way to Utah from Minneapolis for therapy -- the same therapy that changed her son's life.
Wende Burgeson, Minneapolis: “He learned to regain some of his masculinity, and learned that he could be a man without being abusive."
Both victims of domestic abuse, Wende's 16-year old son turned to drugs and violence for an outlet. She sent him away for therapy that involved horses.
Wende: “When you react violently with a horse they react back, and they are bigger than you are."
Equine Assisted Therapy is a new form of therapy. It originated in Utah, and it's only been practiced by therapists for the past four years, but it is successful.
Lynn Thomas, Therapist: “The horses and how they respond to us help us learn more about ourselves. "
These therapy sessions are focused on teaching patience, a skill people learn when they can't get the horse to do what they want. They quickly learn they must change how they're communicating.
Lynn Thomas, Therapist: “The horses will kind of confront us on some of the games that we play, and the justifications that we use. And we aren't going to be successful in our relationship with the horse until we actually make some changes."
Changes Wende wants to make.
Wende: “I was blown away by it. It was what the horses were doing in relationship to me that opened my eyes to what I was doing to myself."
Horses are being used all over the world to work with drug addicts. Trainers say within several days of working with horses, addicts learn they have to change their body language and their behavior to be successful with the horse.