Kacy stood frozen in the middle of the round pen. Over the years she had shut out all feeling. When she had allowed herself to feel, the memories loudly replayed and her body and mind relived it all over again.
As Kacy stood there, the horse gently walked behind her and stood quietly breathing on her back.
It took as long as it took, and then it changed in an instant. Kacy’s body lost all strength and she crumpled to the ground as tears and heart-breaking sobs poured out. This first time she’d allowed this in years.
The horse moved the smallest of steps forward to stand over Kacy. He dropped his head and gently touched his nose to her shoulder, continuing to softly breath on her skin.
This was the moment that changed everything. It was a space where the healing began at a level far deeper than words could ever reach, but a horse could.
Moments like this happen every day in stalls and pens around the world. The touch and presence of a horse can reach deep within a troubled heart where no other human is allowed.
Equine Assisted Coaching (EAC) is a highly sought after and successful modality by people healing from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). It’s gaining momentum as a successful treatment for PTSD and is commonly used in both therapy and coaching settings.
What is PTSD?
Here’s what Janice Story, one of the Freedom Way co-founders, wrote in a recent article:
PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), or CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) can be a result or residual effect from a wide range of traumatic events. Some of the more “common” individuals that often experience PTSD are Veterans, Police Officers, Firemen, First Responders, and Healthcare workers. It appears frequently in people that have been sexually/ physically assaulted or abused, involved in bad accidents, witnesses of violence and terror, or have experienced the devastation of a natural disaster. But I think we often overlook or underestimate the traumatic impact of abandonment, neglect, racism, childhood trauma, verbal and emotional abuse just to name a few.
PTSD can bring about feelings of not being worthy, not being good enough, being a bad person, not feeling loved, and feeling broken. It can bring about the inability to trust others, feelings of insecurities, hopelessness as well as feeling unwanted. Relationships often become difficult as people can be filled with anger, resentment, fear, and shame. There seems to be a sense of being stuck in a deep well without a ladder to climb out just seems to take over.
This is the best way, that I personally have found, for describing to someone what it is like to have PTSD. If you could just imagine that there is a video playing over and over in your head. This video is in full color, high-definition, with all of the sounds, smells, and tastes, and you do not have the remote. It’s not that you can’t control the remote, it’s entirely gone. The first time I explained it that way to one of my clients experiencing PTSD, he said, “Wow! You do get it, you do understand”.
How can you tell if your loved ones or friends are experiencing PTSD? Here are just a few of the possible signs that you might be able to recognize.
Reoccurring flashbacks of disturbing images
Stress caused by past events or trauma
Excessive mood swings
Withdrawal from, and losing interest in activities
Avoidance of people, places, things, or certain conversations
Emotions such as anger, rage, fear, sadness, and irritability
Feelings of being anxious or paranoid
Physical pain, tremors
Alcohol or substance abuse
Impulsive or unusual behavior
Memory loss/unable to concentrate
“Both PTSD patients and horses are preoccupied with ongoing concerns about trust and safety. This innovative therapy facilitates bonding, overcoming fear, and re-establishing confidence,” said Dr. Neria, Director of Columbia’s PTSD program.
How Equine Assisted Coaching Helps People Suffering from PTSD
There are many reasons Equine Assisted Coaching helps people like Kacy break free from past trauma and live life full out.
EAC provides immediate integration of concepts and experiences in real time.
In-the-moment experience that is led by the client’s needs in the present moment.
Clients receive real time feedback on what does and does not work.
Opportunity to explore and try out new thoughts, actions, and communication style.
It’s experiential, not talk therapy, which is vital when working with PTSD.
By working with a horse, clients with PTSD learn to tune into their feelings, regulate their emotions, re-establish confidence, overcome fear, better communicate, and learn to trust themselves. These all translate to real life in key areas of family, work, and social relationships.
What is learned while working with a horse can be applied in real life situations. Clients have the muscle/cell memory of how it felt, as well as the thoughts, emotions, and actions they can replicate.
“As prey animals, horses are hyper vigilant until they learn they are not in danger. Unlike with many dogs, who trust unconditionally, horses require humans to work to gain their trust. Because of their own hyper vigilance, [those] with PTSD easily understand and can relate to the trust and hyper vigilance in a horse.” - Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development
EAC is highly adaptable to a large variety of human conditions and issues from PTSD to personal empowerment. It can easily be added to a current therapy or coaching business or be a strong foundation new coaching practice helping people transform their lives.
As Equine Assisted Coaches, we at the Freedom Way have witnessed many release the grip PTSD holds on them and emerge into a world filled with color, joy, peace and freedom.
If you’re interested in adding EAC to a new or current therapy or coaching practice, we invite you to join us for the next Level 1 Certification course. Not only will you help others change their lives …. yours will be changed too!
Curious? Reply to this email with your questions. We’re happy to schedule a time to talk about your personal ideas and dreams.