HEAL News Nov 2014: EFPL still “alternative”

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HEAL to broaden reach, expand Facilitator Training

It’s been an exciting summer!  In addition to our move from Washington to California, HEAL is expanding!

Join me in welcoming three HEAL Designated Instructors:  Drea Bowen, Kristin Fernald and Brigette Potgeiter.

These talented EFPL professionals  are broadening HEAL’s reach and adding depth to clinical application of the “Six Keys” model of EFPL.   HEAL offers a model of EFPL that can be applied with consistency, yet is flexible enough for diverse clients.  Our training is specifically tailored to the “lead” professional in EFPL – a qualified therapist, educator or certified and experienced coach.     Registration is now open for our 2015 Facilitator Training Program which will be held in Washington State, USA at Raven Rock Ranch.  Learn more about it in this issue!  You are also welcome to contact me personally!

Drea Bowen, BCC, HEAL DI – Washington
Kristin Fernald, MA,LMHC, HEAL DI – Washington
Brigette Potgieter, LCSW, HEAL DI- Pennsylvania
Leigh Shambo, MSW, LPCC, CEIP-MH, HEAL founder and President

Our newsletter is full of tidbits this month:  Leigh’s response to a very interesting research review; a short “Ted Talk” from neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp (see Good Reads and Links), and announcement of the site selected for the 2015 HEAL FTP.

As you’ll learn in this issue, it’s a critical time for the field of EFPL, which has become very broad, arguably at the expense of definition and depth. Read our response to the skeptics!  We at HEAL are satisfied that we have one of the strongest and most effective clinical models for EFPL –  and we are gratified at the feedback we receive from clinicians, from our referral sources, and of course from clients and participants themselves – the most important measure of clinical success.

If you are looking for a post-graduate EFPL certification training program, we hope you will look into the HEAL Facilitator Training Program.  Our next program begins in May and registration is now open.

Please feel free to share our Newsletter, and write to me with your suggestions and questions! I truly love to hear from readers.

Happy trails!  Leigh

News – November

HEAL Equine therapy will conduct 2015 training in Redmond, WA

Raven Rock Ranch in Redmond, WA has announced that it will host an international learning program in equine therapy offered by the non-profit institute Human-Equine Alliances for Learning, or HEAL, beginning in May 2015.  The HEAL training attracts professional educators, counselors, therapists and life coaches from around the world, preparing them to incorporate the alternative therapy known as “equine-facilitated psychotherapy and learning”, or EFPL.

In EFPL participants work with horses as a way of learning about themselves and gaining successful experience in relationships.   “Raven Rock Ranch is a perfect fit for our work in teaching the HEAL model —which is a specific way of facilitating EFPL for the benefit of our human clients,” explains Leigh Shambo, Licensed Clinical Counselor and President of HEAL.   “The HEAL model provides an environment that is empowering to both human and horse.  Psychologically, this is a model that is helpful for healing the effects trauma.”   Shambo is the author of research studies on EFPL and also author of the book “The Listening Heart”, about the HEAL model.

The pairing of the HEAL model with  Raven Rock Ranch as the venue is no accident.  “Our ranch serves kids who have experienced trauma in some way – emotional trauma,” says Sandy Matts, the founder (along with husband Tim) of Raven Rock Ranch. “Either they’ve been abused, or bullied, or… some other difficult thing.  But the good news is: I get to try to help them out of that difficult spot.”  The strategy at Raven Rock is to pair a rescued horse with an at-risk child. The experience of connecting to the horse gives each child a starting place to reconnect with the community. There is no cost for Raven Rock students, as the Ranch is 100% supported by donations.    For more information on Raven Rock Ranch visit www.ravenrockranch.org.  For more information on HEAL and its training programs visit www.humanequinealliance.org.

** On a personal note, Raven Rock Ranch is also home to Frieda and Gem, formerly of HEAL.  They will again be “equine faculty members” at HEAL FTP!

Leigh  Gem Frieda Portrait 2

News release November 10, 2014

A controversial alternative?  Equine-facilitated psychotherapy still in demand

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Leigh Shambo is used to refuting the skeptics when it comes to employing horses in clinical mental health treatment.  She agrees that horses in therapy should not be viewed as a solution for every type of client.  She herself has struggled with the costs and challenges involved in offering horses as therapy animals.   “But, at the end of the day,” she says, “the horses give me an invaluable way to connect with a certain type of client.  And that client often cannot be helped by traditional office therapy.  But this powerful alternative must be skillfully applied, or it won’t produce the desired results. ”

Shambo, the founder of the non-profit organization Human-Equine Alliances for Learning, or HEAL, has published two small research studies on EFP – Equine-Facilitated Psychotherapy, and authored a book on the topic which was published in 2013.  She was responding to an article published in The Journal of Clinical Psychology, in which independent researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi found much of the research done on “equine-related treatments for mental disorders” to be “lacking in sound empirical evidence.” [Anestis, et al. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol00(00), pre-publication on-line journal 1-18 (2014)]  Shambo strongly disagrees with the researcher’s conclusion that such services should not be marketed to the public, due to the immature state of research into EFP.

“Demand for alternatives to office-based therapy is strong”, says Shambo.  “For certain clients, especially those with attachment issues, being with horses and in the horse environment make all the difference.”  Taking exception with the article’s position that horse therapy may steer clients away from more traditional interventions, Shambo finds horse therapy most helpful when traditional treatments have failed.  She cites the case of “Darren” a young teen with serious behavior problems, whose list of diagnoses and labels had become his badge of identity, and rage the only feeling he could express.   “The list of labels and previous behavior problems meant nothing to the horses,” Shambo explains. “Horses (used with the guidance of a human therapist) simply wanted him to be present and enthusiastic.  And the farm itself offered a richness of avenues for healthy interaction.”   Horse therapy in a ranch environment  helped Darren turn a corner.

HEAL’s mission includes research on equine-facilitated psychotherapy, using a model that is developed specifically for relational and attachment issues including early PTSD.   Shambo’s book, The Listening Heart describes that model which incorporates neuroscience and mindfulness with somatic and cognitive therapeutic styles.  These therapies are a good fit with the horse experience, and also have a strong evidence base in mental health treatment.  HEAL offers professional training in EFP for professional counselors, therapists, educators and life coaches, attracting students from across the globe.

Shambo quotes author Annie Rogers on attachment disorders in children, “What has been wounded in a relationship, must be healed in a relationship,” (“A Shining Affliction”, 1996).   “Both young people and adults who have been impacted by relational and developmental trauma may find trusting another human being an impossibility”, Shambo continues.  “That’s where the horse comes in.  A horse is not judgmental, and it’s a simple yet somewhat demanding relationship.   I believe that further research, properly conducted, will eventually prove that EFP works very well with certain types of difficult cases, as long as it clinically and scientifically applied.”

For more information on HEAL and its training programs visit www.humanequinealliance.org

Editors note: For another researcher’s perspective on the value of working with animals, check out Jaak Panskepp’s video in our Reads and Links.

HEAL events and training

kfpic3-day workshop:  HEAL 6 Keys to Connection

Instructor: Drea Bowen, BCC, HEAL DI

Location:  Heart of the Herd Ranch & Retreat Center, Silverdale, WA

Dates:  March 6-8, 2015;  10:00am – 4pm daily – lunch provided

Info and sign up: www.DreaBowen.com








Professional’s  Experiential OpenHouse:

Complimentary opportunity for professionals in the counseling, social work, education, medical, and coaching fields to learn about the professional equine experiential services offered by the Heart of the Herd Ranch Co-Op team.  Each open house includes a presentation about equine experiential learning & psychotherapy, Q & A, and an equine experiential activity for participants. Limited to 6.

Location:  Heart of the Herd Ranch & Retreat Center, Silverdale, WA
Dates:  January 3, 1:00 pm – 3:30pm ~ New Year Kick off!
February 14, 12:30 – 3:00pm ~ Love A Horse
Register by sending an email to info@dreabowen.com

Good reads and links

Researcher and author Jaak Panksepp is increasing changing the world of mental health treatment with his revolutionary ideas about what animals can teach us about being human.

If you loved the above link, and if you have an appetite for scholarly reading on the human-animal commonalities in the neural aspects of affect and affect regulation, this is the book for you!  Author Panksepp is not “just” a scientist, he’s a poet as well as being a visionary researcher who is changing all that we think about psychiatric treatment and medications.  A “must read” for all people working with animal-assisted therapies!  http://www.amazon.com/Archaeology-Mind-Neuroevolutionary-Interpersonal-Neurobiology/dp/0393705315/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415482150&sr=1-1&keywords=jaak+panksepp
If you loved the above link, and if you have an appetite for scholarly reading on the human-animal commonalities in the neural aspects of affect and affect regulation, this is the book for you! Author Panksepp is not “just” a scientist, he’s a poet as well as being a visionary researcher who is changing all that we think about psychiatric treatment and medications. A “must read” for all people working with animal-assisted therapies!amazon.com 


From Booklist
“Grandin is the face of autism. Because of her work, the general public is now aware of what was until fairly recently a strange, disturbing, and essentially unknowable condition. In her latest book, Grandin not only discusses her own experiences with autism but also explains the latest technological advances in the study of the disorder, including the genetics of autism. The symptoms that she displayed at a young age—destructive behavior, inability to speak, sensitivity to physical contact, fixation on spinning objects—are now considered classic indicators of the disorder, though she was diagnosed as having brain damage. An important… and ultimately optimistic work.”
–June Sawyersamazon.com