HEAL News August 2015 -HEALing with horses: the ripple effect

Hello HEAL students, friends and colleagues!

Welcome, and thanks for your interest in equine-facilitated psychotherapy and learning.  The HEAL Newsletter brings you informative and inspiring information relevant to our mission,  “the healing of human emotions and relationships, through learning with horses”.

On behalf of HEAL’s clinical and teaching team, this issue shares our excitement about the results of the HEAL model in practice.   We see horses creating transformation in clients’ lives, which ripples into their family and social lives.  We’ll share some of the science behind our model.  We’ll  inspire you by featuring the work of people in related fields, and maybe pique your interest  for upcoming workshops for personal growth or advanced training in the field of EFPL.

As young folk return to schools this autumn, HEAL nears the summit of our ‘academic year’.  The HEAL class of 2015 graduates in September.  There is palpable excitement in the students and teaching team.   Look for information on the 2016 HEAL FTP in this issue, and look for profiles of new  graduates in our next issue!

I am always ready to hear from you with any question or comment.  Thank you for being a reader, and a believer in horse power

Warm Nickers, Leigh Shambo, HEAL Director  leigh@humanequinealliance.org

HEAL Model:  Equine–Facilitated Psychotherapy & Learning

By Leigh Shambo

The large pen has become a world unto itself.  In a veil of dust, the drum of hoofbeats, a horse galloping powerfully around the perimeter. Closer to the center, a  young girl is also running, in step and time with the larger circle of the horse, her eyes large and alive. Legs align, steps in sync.  The mare’s nostrils flare, two pairs of feminine eyes connect; the tempo eases a bit.  As the running is spent, they turn toward each other, sides heaving.  The mare approaches.  As if by invitation, the girl leans into the horse.

In EFPL the bond between partners kindles the engagement, the focus and desire to grow, to make the relationship work. One of the partners is a human, the other is a horse.  Their bond is dynamic: fluid but reliable.  Their interactions are exhilarating. At Human-Equine Alliances for Learning (or HEAL), we employ a model of  EFPL (Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy and Learning)  that reliably creates a transformative healing process for a broad spectrum of attachment and social-emotional disorders including those arising from or complicated by trauma reactions.

It may sound like magic, but actually our model is one of the most rigorous and scientifically supported models of EFPL.  It’s also one of the safest for the human client, and is respectful and humane for the horse.  The HEAL model relies on an in-depth understanding of the bond that can form quickly between a person and a horse – a bond that the therapist can capitalize on for dramatic and enduring results in our human clients.  Recent scientific advances and HEAL’s own outcome research conducted over 2 years lend evidence to the effectiveness of the HEAL Model.

Keys to Connection: An Introduction to the HEAL Model of EFPL

As summer turns toward fall we are once again offering the HEAL 3-day workshop for personal growth with horses entitled “6 Keys to Connection.” When you spend time with a horse with the sole purpose of creating a connection, utilizing these relationship keys, you become aware of old limiting patterns of thought and behavior and become open to experiencing a new story of who you truly are. The horses help you build more trust in yourself and have greater harmony in your relationships.

This EFL (Equine Facilitated Learning) workshop provides a thorough introduction to the HEAL model and its principles based on neuroscience, psychology, and equine behavior. Working through this sequence of emotional “Keys” guides you to connect authentically with a horse and be able to ask clearly for what you want. You will be supported in experiencing the depth of mindful presence as well as the joy of playfulness with your equine companions.

Whether you are interested in this work for your own personal growth or for professional development, or both, this is an experience that will stay with you always. You do not need to have any horse experience to benefit from this.

The upcoming workshop will be held in two locations from Friday, September 11 to Sunday September 13. Please click on the links below for more information:

Pacific Northwest: Redmond, WA, Raven Rock Ranch  [View Flyer]

East Coast: Bluebell, PA, Manderley Farm [View Flyer]

2016 HEAL Facilitator Training in Redmond, WA USA (near Seattle)

The HEAL Facilitator Training Program is accepting applications for the next class which begins in May 2016.  The five-month program includes two weeks of on-site instruction (spring and fall) at Raven Rock Ranch in Redmond, WA, with a summer semester of distance learning and mentored practice in EFPL.

Access our informational flyer

HEAL Facilitator Jeanette Lysell, NorwayThe 2016 HEAL program promises the best learning experience yet.  The teaching team for  HEAL 2016 includes: Kristin Fernald, LMHC,  Brigette Potgieter, LCSW, Leigh Shambo, MSW, LPCC, CEIP-MH, and Sandy Matts, MA, PATH-TRI.  The combined strengths of these instructors offer a spectrum of experience and support for our students, and a high instructor to student ratio.   HEAL-FTP  accepts a small cohort of  candidates who are qualified to serve as the lead therapist or educator for EFPL services.  We select for candidates with a balance of horse experience, plus education and experience in a modality of human counseling, therapy or education. Access our informational flyer, or call us, for more details on the application criteria.

Call HEAL for more information 760-873-8980 or email info@humanequinealliance.org

The 5-month long HEAL training attracts professional educators, counselors, therapists and life coaches, preparing them to incorporate equine-facilitated psychotherapy and learning, or EFPL, into their work with clients and students.  The program will accept up to 12 qualified applicants, on a first-come basis.

Book review:  Great support for the EFPL therapist!

by Brigette Potgieter, LCSW, HEAL Faculty

The case for equine facilitated psychotherapy resides within the pages of this book! My SEEKING brain was abuzz with “enthu-siasm” as time and time again I underlined and exclaimed upon the morsels of brilliant information revealed in The Healing Power of Emotion: 379 pages of writings by some of today’s top researchers and clinicians on attachment and emotion.

There are many themes that connect the eleven respective essays. Those of us certified in The HEAL Model of EFPL, will be familiar with some of the concepts presented. Central to the book is the urging for a fundamental paradigm shift in psychotherapy from predominantly cognitive models to an integrated balance with experiential models to engage emotional healing.

New to me was Ed Tronick’s Multilevel Meaning Making and Dyadic Expansion of Consciousness Theory (chapter 4), which proposes that “emotions are elements of meaning” and that, “demands for the explicit (i.e. verbal narratives)… robs emotions, and other forms of meaning of their richness” (parentheses mine). The emotional – implicit – level of meaning often is and remains “unknowable” and is quietly being co-created between self and other (Tronick). This concept, as well as many others eloquently laid out in this book, deepens my understanding of those sessions, between horse and client, that defy words yet, for the client, “carries with it a sense of expansion and positive affects,” (Tronick).

Highly recommended for all seeking to understand “why” EFPL works wonders. Naturally!

Good Reads and Links

For a really good, scholarly read, try The Healing Power of Emotion: Affective Neuroscience, Development & Clinical Practice, Edited by Fosha, Siegel and Solomon.  (see book review, above) This book features many of the scientists and clinicians whose work forms a solid theoretical foundation for the HEAL Model.  At the core of the HEAL Model, is the very real and mutual bond that can quickly form between human and horse.

Do you think the interspecies bond is imaginary, or anthropomorphic?  Check out this video “I Have a Dream” by animal communicator James French.  https://youtu.be/jDioO6-Trdg    “Yea!”, to James and his dream!

To visit James French’s Trust Technique home page and access his free video course click on

Animal communicator Anna Breytenbach (featured in previous HEAL Newsletters), gave a very moving and personal interview about how her work has shaped her beliefs, for the O World Project.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMpEBPwYMx8&feature=youtu.be

The HEAL Model integrates a teaching component for clients of all ages, so we are always looking for fun ways to teach mindfulness to kids. Here is  Teaching the ABCs of Attention, Balance and Compassion: Susan Kaiser Greenland at TEDxStudioCityED    https://youtu.be/LpMvTTIr2p4  Enjoy!!