HEAL Newsletter Winter 2019

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Greetings for the new year!

It has been a quiet season for HEAL. Just as winter holds the promise of seeds not yet coming to form, there are ideas in the making for new growth with HEAL programs in the US that are in a resting phase as we honor the changes in the location of HEAL workshops and trainings. In the meantime, our programs in Norway are firmly planted and ready to blossom in the spring at Jeanette Lysell’s farm “Billit gard”. In this newsletter you will find information on these programs as well as some reflections on “Key One” (Body Centered Awareness) and a review of Daniel Siegel’s latest book, “Aware”.

After HEAL’s founder and executive director Leigh Shambo moved from the HEAL Ranch in Chehalis, WA to her life in Bishop, CA with her husband David and their two horses, we moved HEAL’s programs to Raven Rock Ranch in Redmond, WA. Raven Rock based their work with at-risk youth on the HEAL model. They have become in such great demand for their work that they no longer have the time and space to host HEAL programs. We are deeply grateful to the wholehearted support that Sandy Matts, executive director, and the tireless crew at Raven Rock and their wonderful herd gave to HEAL for several years of true service to the field of Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy and Learning (EFPL). I would personally like to take a moment to remember Sport, who “crossed the rainbow bridge” this fall. He gave so much to so many, even in his elder years where his youthful bursts of playful energy could still come through! Thank you, dear friend.

A note to all you readers: if you would like to host the HEAL Keys to Connection 3-day workshop at your facility, please contact either Leigh or myself. Even though we do not have a central location for programs at this time, we can still travel to teach! Gather up your peers, contact your associates, give us some lead time and we can help make this happen. For more information, you can contact me.

And now, dear reader, enjoy the rest of this newsletter. Stay cozy and safe for the remainder of winter. Spring is just around the corner!

Gratefully yours,
Kristin Fernald

HEAL Senior Instructor and Program Coordinator

Key One Reflections

by Kristin Fernald

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.
mevlana jelaluddin rumi – 13th century

I often quote the beginning of this passage by the poet/mystic/philosopher Rumi to my clients. And when I read further, I am touched by “when the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about”. I think of countless times that my clients have found peace just by being with my horses, out in the field, or in a corral by the barn. There is no need for language. There is only “feeling felt”, simply being. Which is a deeply restful and integrating place to be.

In the HEAL model of EFPL, we say that Key One of the Six Keys to Connection is the center of our work. We return here over and over, both within a session, and throughout a client’s course of treatment. We guide our clients, with the help of the horses, to this return. We ourselves are continually centering in mindful presence as we witness and facilitate the horse-human bond in action. In a more active session, such as Key Four Play, or Key Five Seeking, coming back to Key One’s Body Centered Awareness periodically and sensing experience through the body helps a client integrate the information that is coming to them “from the bottom up.” This results in a greater likelihood of establishing new neural pathways that support growth and change.

I typically begin each session with 3 minutes of mindful awareness practice: focusing attention on the five senses as a way of tuning in to what the horses are experiencing in their environment, free of our busy minds. Eyes can be open or closed. Taking the time just to notice the senses is similar to Daniel Siegel’s first segment of his Wheel of Awareness practice (see book review “Aware” in this newsletter). Then as we move into our “check in” time, before going to the horses, the client is more present and able to tune in to what is showing up in their body and mind that is asking for attention. What is the intention for today’s session? What question or desire is present? And finally, what is happening in their emotional energy as experienced in their body in this moment? The stage is well set to go and meet the herd.

Over the course of therapy, a client will have more active sessions at times and at other times more reflective ones. This is determined in part by where they are in their growth and learning, and especially by what shows up between horse and human as the session begins. As a practitioner, being able to stay centered in your Key One awareness, attuning to both client and horse(s), allows for new possibilities to arise that you may not have thought of during the check in time as to how to guide the equine therapy session.

Recently, a client I have been seeing for several months came to her session full of fear and anxiety. She expressed thoughts such as “I am a failure”, and “People don’t understand me”, and had been isolating herself. Her “Divided Self” (Key 3) was in charge! I had a particular idea of something we would do in the round pen to activate this Key in one of the horses, a more active activity that would build on a competency that she has established in her previous work with the horses. However, as she went through meeting the herd, my mare Poca had a very different idea. She made it very clear that she wanted a good scratch. “Stephanie” took great delight in accommodating her, and it brought her fully into the present moment. Soon Poca was chosen and grooming as a Key One awareness activity was at hand…. Followed by a mindful walk down the driveway. The emotional regulation of the grooming movements soothed Stephanie, and Poca’s grateful receptivity activated the Key 6 Care circuit. Stephanie became very calm and focused. The walk provided further regulation as Poca, who can be a very fast walker, attuned to Stephanie’s slower pace. By the end of the session, Stephanie shared “I feel more myself!!”. She had some powerful insights to share. In the days that followed, she sent me a couple of emails of how much that session helped her. “I feel more whole.” The resonance of the experience, supported by healthy actions on her part in her home life, was still with her at her next session (which ended up being an active one!). (NOTE: Stephanie’s quick return to center was the result of the several previous months of relating with the horses; the limbic connection builds over time. This is not a “quick fix” scenario).

We did not spend a lot of time talking about her fear and anxiety. Or the accompanying thoughts. I trusted my co-facilitator Poca to help her. The things that “didn’t make sense” fell away as she was simply able to feel herself in the limbic connection she shared with Poca. She had found that field beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing.

Here are some photos of Poca enjoying a good scratch with a couple of clients!!


May 5 – Sept 28 at Billit Gard, Hoboel, Norway


HEAL Facilitator Training Program graduates 2017

The 2019 HEAL program is going to be held in Norway once again, at Bilitt Gaard, a small farm near Oslo. The teaching team for 2019 includes: Kristin Fernald, LMHC, Jeanette Lysell of Bilitt Gaard, and Norunn Kogstad. The combined strengths of these instructors offer a spectrum of experience and support for our students, and a high instructor to student ratio. Jeanette’s herd is very experienced in the work of HEAL, through numerous workshops over the past 5 years and the 2017 HEAL FTP. 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.

Call Kristin Fernald for more information at (360) 468-3785 or email kristin@kristinfernald.com.

Learn more about the FTP Program >

HEAL Six Keys to Connection

Let the Horse teach you!!

This introductory 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. Experience how the horses help you build more trust in yourself and have greater harmony in your relationships

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

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS at Billit Gard, Hoboel, Norway
with HEAL Instructor Jeanette Lysell, j-lysel@online.no

Several opportunities to experience the horse-human bond in action:
March 15 – March 17
March 29 – March 31
April 5 – April 7
July 12 – July 1

Learn more about the Keys to Connection workshop >

Book Review: AWARE by Daniel J. Siegel, MD
The Science and Practice of Presence

Once again Dan Siegel has graced us with a powerful, well researched and very readable book on the nature of the mind and the practice of awareness. In our HEAL Facilitator Training Program, we have often used one of his books for the part of our summer semester reading assignments that is focused on understanding the practice of mindfulness. We have worked with “Mindsight” and later “The Mindful Therapist”. This most recent book of his is exciting to read through the lens of the HEAL model, as there are many parallels to what we teach in our learning concepts and what we practice with the horses.

I highly recommend this read to any HEAL graduate, and to anyone wanting a thorough integration of neuroscience and psychology in the study of how the mind can affect the brain. His Wheel of Awareness is a simple yet profound visual map of the mind that offers a clearly structured awareness practice that is easy to use and learn. He gives many case study examples of how the Wheel has helped his clients to self regulate and increase their emotional resilience. Whether you adopt this practice yourself, or use it to inform what you are already doing, this book is well worth the read.

Find it on Amazon >

Looking forward to what lies ahead.