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Observing without interpreting is a key foundation in the EAGALA Model, and one of the biggest challenges for facilitators. When watching through the framework of SPUD’s (Shifts, Patterns, Unique, Discrepancy, and Apostrophe S), observations must be specific, objective, behavioral actions of clients and horses seen through an unclouded lens. In other words, observations without judgment, biases, beliefs and assessments and discover their own solutions---the solution –oriented standard of the model.

 In EAGALA, this is referred to as “Clean Language.” Clean Language is a term developed by David Grove in the 1980s. It is about the facilitators keeping opinions and advice to themselves, while listening and observing attentively, asking clean questions, and exploring metaphors being brought out by the client in the client’s language. Through this process, clients naturally change by their own direction, instead of someone trying to “force” change. In the arena with horses, it allows the client and horses to “be” and truly experience the moment.

One of the most important qualities of an EAGALA Model facilitator is the ability to be sincerely and genuinely curious: curious about what the client really thinks and believes, curious about what the horses are doing and what it might mean to the client, curious about what the clients and horses might do next, curious about what one’s team member is thinking and doing, and just overall curious about everything. It is through this place of curiosity that facilitators are able to keep their language cleaner and be open to learning and accepting others rather than placing judgments and expectations on them. 

(Recommended reading on Clean Language and metaphor: Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds by Wendy Sullivan and Judy Rees and Metaphor in Mind: Transformation through Symbolic Modelling by James Lawley and Penny Tompkins) 

The phrase “trust the process” is used in EAGALA to remind facilitators that it is the horses and clients which direct the process and know best what is needed, and it is the facilitator’s role to listen and not block this process from happening by inserting personal agendas. When observing the EAGALA Model, it is easy to wonder what is going on. Yet the power of the interaction between horses and clients continues to manifest itself time and time again when providing this opportunity and following the model.

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