Thoughts and Models to Foster and Support the Process
In the field of equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning, clients generally are coming to us in some form of distress or discomfort. Ours is not the world of massage or manicures, where clients usually leave refreshed, revitalized, and rejuvenated. The change fostered by EAP is about long-term change, not short-term happiness or satisfaction. In this, we need to be comfortable when others are uncomfortable. That’s a big part of being a professional in this field.
Change, for clients, for ourselves, for anyone, is, quite simply, hard. If it weren’t, we’d all regularly and routinely solve all our problems just by becoming aware of them and taking appropriate action. But our psyches aren’t akin to fixing a flat tire. There are a lot more moving parts, as evidenced by some of the neuroscience literature we’ve been examining. Flat tires don’t often deny they are flat, or think flat is working just fine!
One idea that is becoming abundantly clear is that a system of bribes and rewards to produce change is insufficient and/or flawed. As the title of a book long recommended by EAGALA states, we are often Punished by Rewards (Kohn, 1999). The subtitle continues to point the finger at systems that don’t work: “The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise and Other Bribes.” Kohn posits that collaboration, meaningful content, and choice are much greater methods for reaching lasting change. More recently, Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us (2011), continues the discussion, determining that internal motivators will almost always trump external ones. Autonomy/choice, mastery and purpose are more significant in creating lasting change than money or various other carrots. Choice and collaboration are significant elements of EAP/EAL.
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Over a decade ago, Horse Sense began the journey into becoming a top-notch EAP/EAL facility. We are eager to help other Therapeutic Horsemanship, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning programs make it, and make a difference, in their community.
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Thoughts and Models to Foster and Support the Process
Howdy friends and best wishes for a fabulous 2015!
For obvious reasons, the beginning of a new year is a time when many look back at what they consider the successes and non-successes of the past year and make promises to themselves as to how they are going to improve results in the coming year.
The most important step is taking the time to have that conversation with yourself. Don't be afraid to look back and honestly assess what worked and didn't work over the past year. It's not about beating yourself up about last year, and it's not about setting goals for the upcoming year and just hoping it happens. It's about setting realistic, achievable goals and developing a plan to achieve them.
One of the most overlooked elements in a plan for the new year is continuing education. No matter what your business, or how long you've been in business, there is always something new to learn. More than the actual education session you attend, spending time with other professionals in your business results in huge benefits. Conversations with colleagues can spark ideas, help with troubleshooting, and provide insight into what others are finding to be successful in their businesses. We are hard at work developing a range of educational opportunities and experiences to help you grow in your business. We hope to see you on the farm sometime in 2015!
Many people approach me asking for advice on which certification and/ or organization is right for them, or which one they should attend. My best answer is to attend any and all trainings and certifications, as one can learn from anyone. However, without unlimited resources and time, I believe understanding where they stand on some key concepts will identify which of the organizations they most closely align with philosophically.
Although Horse Sense has offered predominantly EAGALA-based services since inception, all the people and organizations I’ve studied with and under have taught me and have added something to how Horse Sense approaches EAP & EAL. I’ve included extended discussions of PATH, EAGALA and TF-EAP in this section because of the influence they have either with me or in the field as a whole, or both.
Since 2010-2011, Horse Sense has evolved its offerings to include mounted work with clients in the form of limited Therapeutic Riding and Trauma-Focused Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy, which includes both riding and unmounted work. We have very specific and clear distinctions among the methodologies in our toolkit. We feel we can meet 75% of our clients’ needs utilizing solely groundwork, and we’ve begun offering these other modalities to address the other 25% of needs we feel are best treated with some form of mounted work. Our overwhelming commitment is to the client, not to a specific methodology or model. That said, we strive to be “clean and clear” about what, how and why we employ different modalities, and constantly challenge ourselves and each other in this process to articulate the reasons that drive what we are doing. Below are some of the key ideas informing the Horse Sense philosophy, as they have crystallized for me throughout the years.
1. Concept of what promotes change Pain is a very strong motivator; with sufficient discomfort, one becomes open-minded enough to start seeking answers. Pain and dis- comfort are the walls most people run into before they become ready to change. My experience is that people create, cause, and seek out change in their life when...