The horse and human bond is ancient and sacred. Horses are naturally intuitive, sensitive, and social creatures who recognize the importance of relationships for survival. They have been an integral part of our existence on this planet throughout the evolution of human history but as we have domesticated horses to make them useful for modern society we have also domesticated, or "un-wilded" ourselves. We've unlearned many of the coping and relating skills that have always been part of our organism's natural "blueprint". When we return to the land, to our bodies, to our innate need to seek out connection and co-regulate, we set the conditions for healing and evolving. Horses have known this all along. It is an honor and gift to partner with, learn from and commune with these animals.
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
My approach to equine therapy is relational, somatic and experiential, meaning that we will be working with what is being experienced between one another and the horses, in the body, in the present moment. This work invites you to move beyond the stories in the mind and gently towards what wants to be expressed in the body. When supported in a titrated way this can help reset the nervous system, heal old attachment patterning, and renegotiate past traumas.
My approach draws primarily from my training in the EQUUSOMA® model for Horse-Human Trauma Recovery. One of the goals of trauma recovery is "somatic renegotiation", the process of growing our capacity to be with larger amounts of activation (unpleasant sensations and emotions) as well as larger amounts of goodness (pleasant sensations and emotions). This process expands our "window of tolerance" and allows the nervous system to respond more accurately and effectively to the environment. As we learn to track our internal experience we become more present and aware and we have greater capacity to be with emotions that were previously not able to be fully felt, allowing them to be processed through to completion and released from the body. Horses naturally track energy, emotions and sensations in their bodies and use that information to respond accordingly to their environment. Through the horses' modeling and learning to co-regulate with them, we can support renegotiation of what no longer serves us and restore the nervous system's natural ability to regulate.
Equine therapy can be supportive either as a primary treatment or as an adjunct to traditional "talk" psychotherapy. Interactions with the horses take place on the ground and riding instruction is not part of the process as the focus is on the relationship with the horse which will act as a vehicle to promote insight and transformation. Anyone apprehensive about up-close and personal interaction with a horse can learn by observing them and engagement with the horses is always based on choice and readiness. The horses are our revered partners in this work and will also engage with us based on their own choice and readiness. Healing with horses is not healing for anyone if it is done at the expense of the horse. I believe the rapport between the therapist and client is one of the most important factors in therapy. Reach out to schedule a free initial phone consultation to determine together if I personally, and if equine therapy, is the best fit for you at this time.
Please note that I am currently only offering Equine Assisted Psychotherapy sessions for adults. To learn more about the kids programs I offer please visit Marin Ranch School.
Attunement Coaching for Horse People
These sessions are designed to provide relationship support for humans and their equine life partners. Our horses, just like us, want to feel "seen, heard, felt and gotten" (adapted by Sarah Schlote from Dan Siegel) and when we are in this state of "attunement" we are capable of so much more together. Whether you are seeking to change the way you are feeling towards your horse or supporting your horse to change their behavior, learn more about how you can increase your sense of safety and connection and feel better together.
Groups and Teams
In collaboration with my partners in the Ranch Life Collective I offer customizable equine experiences for your group or team. Using the pure and reciprocal relationship with the horse as a vehicle to promote insight, learning and connection, these exploratory workshops offer a unique opportunity to access your authentic self and true leadership style, and to reset and reconnect in a beautiful natural setting.
The body of research is growing that supports the many benefits of communing with horses and the science is clear in the many positive impacts that these animals can have on our emotional and relational worlds, from hormones and neurotransmitters to brainwaves and heart fields. That said, there is something spiritual and mysterious about how evocative and profound even short interactions with horses can be for people and there is something to be said about embracing the unknown. If diving into this mystery intrigues you reach out to learn more about how the horses can support you and your team on this journey.
I can be available for consultation on equine assisted psychotherapy and learning, equine facilitation and certification, and equine and nature based program development.
I also offer short term parent coaching, with and without horses. In the 10 years that I specialized as a child and teen therapist I found that working with the child's support system is essential to supporting change and growth in the child. Although I no longer accept minors for individual therapy, I can offer support to the family system.