By offering a unique opportunity to identify and practise behaviours that are related to feelings, emotions, attitudes and other aspects of our inner state in a safe yet authentic learning environment, equine-assisted experiential learning is an effective way of developing emotional intelligence.
Behavioural emotional intelligence has four key pillars, each with its own set of related skills and competences:
Adapted from Primal Leadership : Realising the Power of Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee, Harvard Business School Press, 2002) and Working with Emotional Intelligence (Daniel Goleman, Bantam Books, 1998)
There are numerous development opportunities related to one or more of the four pillars; common ones include building trust, exploring and managing unconscious bias, identifying and leveraging leadership style, working on followership, and improving collaboration. All equine-assisted experiential learning programmes are designed with a specific behavioural challenge or opportunity in mind, based on a need for behavioural change within the target audience.
Individual programmes are tailored to the participant’s needs. At the beginning of the programme, a comprehensive needs analysis is carried out, including (but not limited to) discussion with the programme facilitator, self-assessment, and evaluation by others. Using the information gathered, the participant, supported by the programme facilitator, sets his or her own learning objectives, always within the framework of the four pillars of emotional intelligence.
An equine-assisted experiential learning programme for a group of participants has an over-arching learning objective linked to emotional intelligence, identified by key stakeholders to meet a need for behavioural change. For example, a group programme learning objective could be: ‘to experience the impact of trust and practise building trust relationships’.
Following an individual needs analysis process as described above, each participant in the group identifies specific skills or competences that she or he wants and needs to work on in order to achieve the wider programme objective within his or her own context, and sets individual learning objectives accordingly. For example, individual learning objectives for the programme described above (experience trust and practise building trust relationships) might include any or all of the following:
- Build better trust relationships by showing authenticity and reliability.
- Balance focus on task with attention to relationships when working with others.
- Better understand the emotions and perceptions of others.
- Build the abilities of others through more effective feedback and guidance.
- Identify shared values and goals and demonstrate loyalty to them when working in a group.
While the group discussions and input sessions in a group programme will cover the wider learning objective, individual coaching and feedback sessions will focus on the participant’s specific learning objectives.