January 16th 2023 through January 20th, 2023
No, this is not therapy for horses. They don’t need therapy, we do!
But why horses? Companion animal therapy has been around for quite a while and we are all familiar with the benefits of visits from cuddly pups to shut-ins, service dogs’ loyalty and healing with returning vets, and therapy dogs that allow their owners to enter the mainstream of life with the help and security of a trusted furry friend.
So why bother with horses as therapeutic aids? They’re big, not cuddle-in- your arms companions* and some are not even that friendly. Even so, evidence is mounting that for many clients, working with horses enables them to reach inside themselves to find strength, resiliency, and healing.
[*I have had some of the best cuddle sessions with horses as they lay their somewhat huge heads in my lap or rest them on my shoulder.]
Horses have something the other “therapy animals” don’t. They are “prey” animals; which means that as big and powerful as they appear, they are at the mercy of their environment to survive. They’re not “fighters” they’re runners! That makes them highly dependent on their herd and their inner resources to ensure survival. They startle easily. Flapping paper bags and unfamiliar objects (like their image in a puddle!) will cause a major horse anxiety- attack...meaning that they “spook” and run. Or hop...like a very big bunny.
This hyperawareness makes them highly sensitive and in tune with the energy coming from those around them. Are you friend or foe? Do you want to play with me or eat me? They are often way more aware of what you’re feeling than you are...and they will reflect your feelings back to you. Scared? They get scared. Anxious? They get anxious. Curious and warm? They come over for a pat or cuddle. You don’t know what you’re feeling? Hang out with a horse... You don’t know why people respond to you the way they do? Hang out with a horse...
The other fascinating aspect of horse communication is that when a horse perceives danger he alerts the herd silently, via non-verbal signals. Makes sense. They don’t want to signal their proximity to a potential predator.
Horses’ ability to tap into non-verbal forms of communication, parallels the work we do when we tap into our own body memories to access, and heal, early childhood wounds. Perhaps the wound happened preverbally, perhaps no one was there even if we had the words. These early wounds leave their mark deep in our bodies. Once our feelings are accessed, mirrored by these gentle creatures, we can now acknowledge them and incorporate them into our “story.” [Bessel Van De Kolk describes this phenomenon in his excellent book, “The Body Keeps Score.”]
Another element of healing occurs when we rediscover laughter and play, often sorely missing in the lives of hurt, scared children. Safety and unconditional acceptance are core requirements to enable play. It’s OK to make a mistake! It’s OK not to catch the ball! It’s OK if the horse runs gleefully away from you as you try to catch it! No one wins, but everyone has fun!
So, healing begins with inner growth and self-acceptance and with the new- found capacity for joy. Horses guide us, teach us, and accept us, just for who we are...and hope to become.
*Those of you, who attend the workshop, will be able to viscerally experience the energy emanating from a horse via a particularly potent exercise called “Con Su Permisso” (“With Your Permission”).
Alita has found that doing equine psychotherapy has been very effective in dealing with a variety of emotional issues. In particular: anyone having difficulty with interpersonal relationships, anyone working through trauma (childhood or present day), anyone feeling disempowered by life and other people, anyone struggling with a sense of mastery over their futures, anyone having issues with assertiveness and boundary-setting, all benefit from some time spent with horses.
Alita tries to organize one or two workshops a year which are available to my own patients as well as other interested people. This year’s workshop will be held in Central Mexico at the Rancho De Las Cascadas Ranch and Spa, January 16th 2023 through January 20th, 2023.
For further information, check Alita website at: www.alitabuzelphd.com or contact me directly at: email@example.com.
Alita book, “Beyond Words: The Healing Power of Horses” describes my therapeutic style and goals.
Any questions, please reach out to Alita. If you have any questions about therapy or would like to learn more about who I am and what I'm about | (212)-799-1705 | firstname.lastname@example.org