Actual transcript from the Podcast:
This is your host Josh Schubert, and episode 16 of the Equine Therapy Podcast. Where it is my goal with this Podcast to give you in-depth conversations with a variety of experts and professionals in the Equine Therapy field.
This is going to be more of a between-isode where I wanted to talk about the 5 biggest things I have learned from doing the last 15 episodes. I have now interviewed college professors, licensed therapist, business consultants, and equine experts. Up to now the Equine Therapy Podcast has been very broad and I wanted to talk with a variety of people and discuss several subjects. Now I’m wondering what you the listener is thinking and what subjects you want to hear going forward. Who should I interview next? What subjects do you want to learn about?
Please visit the website at EquineTherapyPodcast.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, please check out the facebook group Equibliss, it is designed as a resource for anyone involved in Equine Assisted Therapy.
I hope you enjoy, thank you for listening, and live your best
1. The first lesson I learned and really the first question I asked was “What is equine assisted psychotherapy?”
I think that was my original thought when I heard about EAP, and I’m sure a lot of people listening have been asked a similar question.
My favorite answer came from IOANA MĂRCUȘ and she said quote “The premise is that we invite horses into the therapeutic process to help us facilitate building a relationship with the client, there is numerous benefits to that…” and she said “It is like working with a highly skilled nonverbal co-therapist…”
And I know many counselors doing this work, like Shelley Green Professor at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL, is using an established therapeutic model and then incorporating horses into the therapy. So in some cases you could look at Equine Therapy as a tool you incorporate into your therapy, while continuing to use sound therapy practices. I think this helps normalize the process and helps people understand what is going on.
Now for people actually doing the work, I think we know there are a lot of things the horses can do that us humans can’t, and this leads me to the second thing I have learned.
2. Horses are authentic and they want you to be too. Basically horses don’t lie, they don’t force themselves to be someone they are not, and they have a great ability to read your current state.
Linda Salinas in episode 4 gave great insight on how horses have an amazing ability to allow people to be vulnerable, more in-touch with themselves, and be more authentic. This will naturally lead to a connection with nature and healing.
Also, Rebecca Wong from episode 12 talked about her theory on Connectfulness and I quote “When you make time to feel your feelings and connect with yourself, to really sit with and observe what solidly standing in and honoring your truth feels like… You’ll soon observe the ripple that standing in your truth plays in all of your relationships.”
I think horses can really give you that connected feeling with yourself. Helping you be congruent with your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
As a counselor I know that a lot of different populations you might work with will be highly defensive. I and I know Greg Kersten have worked with a lot of adolescents, especially oppositional youth, and horses have this amazing ability to make them more open and available to therapy. I know Candice Ackerman has worked a lot with military veterans and people with PTSD, and at times there can be a stigma or reluctance to fully participate in therapy. But being outside and around horses lets them shift the focus from being defensive to being open.
If you want to learn more about the Animal-Human connection, I would recommend you look into Kay Trotter and her book: “Harnessing the Power of Equine Assisted Counseling: Adding Animal Assisted Therapy to Your Practice.”
3. The third would be that horses can sense your energy and teach you to regulate yours.
Linda Salinas and other people have been able to successfully use the horse’s ability to sense energy levels to assist clients in self-regulation and refocusing when distracted.
Candice Ackerman from episode 9 said that the horses can offer instant biofeedback and relationship feedback. So basically horses can monitor changes in energy level and help us become aware of this.
I know as a counselor myself how important energy level is and how that affects people’s mood. Imagine someone with high anxiety, they are living with high amounts of energy and it could be very easy for this high amount of energy to become uncomfortable elevated and turn into a panic attack. Being able to self-regulate and become in tune with your energy can really be an affect type of treatment.
Also people with ADHD or attention issues can have high levels of energy and horses can help them be aware and refocus.
4th is that horses are herd animals and animals of prey.
I think the key is really understanding how to use the horses to your full advantage within the therapy session. Keeping in mind it’s naturally going to be a herd animal and an animal of pray. This means the horse is going to be hyper-vigilant and very aware of its surroundings and the safety of its self and the herd. Their brain very much mimics a person with PTSD or who has been abused. Sometimes part of the process is just observing the herd and people will naturally reflect themselves on the horses and their behaviors. I thought Greg Kersten in episode 3 did a great job of discussing the herd mentality and how to fully take advantage of it. He also is providing training throughout the country through the OK Corral Series.
Dada Suvak in episode 2 talked about how the herd instinct helps create, and I quote “an increase in social connection, that we are all together. Increase their feelings of being accepted, respected, and connected.”
Candice Ackerman also talked about how the horse's herd mentality is a real asset and works well with the military community view on relationships and togetherness. Safety in numbers!
5th is that in order to do Equine related therapies, we need to change our mindset about horses.
Dada Suvak in episode 2 touched on this and said that she needed to change her mind from “making money, to looking at horse as a living creature with needs and emotions, and then applying that to people and helping kids to grow emotionally healthy. Changing your relationship with horses to a more natural horsemanship”
I think a lot of the equine assisted psychotherapy models honors and respects horses. After talking with Kate Naylor in episode 13, I’m not sure if any do as great a job as the Natural Lifemanship model. I would definitely recommend if you haven’t already to look into the Natural Lifemanship model at naturallifemanship.com
For everyone that is listening, I want to know what you the listener is thinking and what subjects you want to hear going forward. Who should I interview next? What subjects do you want to learn about? Please email me at EquineTherapyPodcast@gmail.com
You can find links on everything we talked about, and ways to contact me by going to the show notes at EquineTherapyPodcast.com/episode-16
And you can visit my personal site at JoshSchubertLPC.com
I hope you enjoyed this between-isode podcast and live your best.