As equine therapy practitioners, it’s our job to bring our knowledge and experience to the arena every day as we work with clients, helping them through the therapy process.
We have worked to learn the best ways to help our clients. But, sometimes we get to work with a client or group of clients who test our skills – who push us outside of our normal comfort zone, and challenge us to think up new ways to facilitate the therapy process.
On our farm we were blessed to work with just one such group – a particularly challenging group of teen boys who had found themselves in a juvenile detention center. Perhaps not surprisingly, these boys weren’t all that interested in the traditional therapy process.
When they got in the ring with the horses, they didn’t want to talk about their feelings or experiences – they weren’t really too down with verbal communication much at all. Traditional modes of talk therapy were clearly out.
So, we were faced with the challenge of how to help these teens work through their often deeply troubled issues in some other way. If we wanted to help them, we were going to need to think outside the traditional therapy box, even the “traditional equine therapy box”!
Out of that work, we developed our new Skill Cards, which I am so pleased to be able to share with you. Through trial and error, we learned from these boys that one of the best ways to reach them was to focus on a specific task that required them to get outside of their own heads a bit. They didn’t need to talk about their feelings for the sake of talking, but they did need to focus on a specific skill or concept, outlined on their skill card.
As these Skill Cards evolved, each card talks about a particular personal skill that these boys may have been learning how to deal with, such as understanding their anger or paying attention to their physical environment. There was a link between that skill and a horse fact, with information about how skill might apply to them in real life. So, for “understanding your anger” the horse fact gave a hint about how horses express their anger or fear, and then information about how humans may best process their emotions as well.
The boys would then think about (and inevitably end up talking about) how that skill card and horse fact related to them and their personal situation.
The cards proved remarkably effective at breaking through to our boys from juvie – so effective that we figured they might be helpful with our regular clients as well!
Those boys taught us that by thinking outside of the box and being a little creative, we could help even more people.
Our new skill card set is the result of our trial and error process. We took those initial 15 cards that were created for the boys and developed a full set of 50 cards, which we are incredibly proud of. They can be used with a wide variety of therapy & learning clients to address a whole range of issues and personal skills.
We took the cards to the EAGALA conference in March, and we had a fantastic response.
And now, they are available to all of you! And the best part is that the proceeds from these cards go to our Scholarship Fund, which supports organizations or people who want to work with us but can’t because of limited resources. When you buy a set of cards, you will not only get a valuable resource to use in your own therapy practice, but you will be helping others as well. We’ve had really remarkable results so far, and I know you will too.
Interested in getting your own skill card set for your therapy & learning program? Fabulous – click here.