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Another Great Equine Site

Mission:

Horses Healing Hearts helps children who have been affected by a family member with addiction to heal emotionally, build self-esteem, and learn life-coping skills by working with horses. The only one of it’s kind in the nation, our program is unique and made strong by the commitment of our volunteers, host barns and magnificence of the horses that help these vulnerable kids open their hearts to trust again. Some of our children have lost a parent recently to suicide, overdose and murder. They are crying out for help and guidance.

Liz Olszewski, HHH Executive Director, testifying to congress regarding the importance of prevention programs for Children of Alcoholics and Addicts:

Dylan Armus, HHH Participant, testifying to congress on behalf of children of alcoholics and addicts:

 

The majority of the public does not understand how devastating and deep-rooted addiction is and/or the impact it has on the entire family — most notably the children.

Additionally, the general public does not understand how incredibly healing horses can be for all types of trauma. Our charity brings together the children who have been affected by addiction and the horses who offer their acceptance, love, and incredible ability to sense when someone is not “in touch” with their feelings.

There are tens of thousands of us who love horses, grew up with addicted parent(s) and felt the only place of solace and escape was the barn. Our faces were pressed against our horse’s neck and cheeks pressed against their nose- feeling their sweet and calming breath on our shoulder — Knowing they understood everything without a word. Being one of those children I wanted to start a group using what saved me, mentors and horses, to pay forward what was offered to me in the most difficult years of my life.

Why Addiction Is a Generational Cycle:

Children who grow up with addiction learn three unspoken rules — “Don’t talk, don’t trust, and don’t feel.” These rules enable them to temporarily survive the trauma and violence that they live daily.

However, as they grow up the feelings start coming to the surface, and they are very uncomfortable and painful. Unless the child has learned a positive way to deal with their feelings… Through means such as a sport, a hobby, or by being involved with a group such as Horses Healing Hearts, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, etc, they are very likely to follow the pattern of their parents and have a very strong desire to numb the pain of the feelings through alcohol or drugs.

At our prevention sessions, we teach them they are not alone, their parents addiction is not their fault, and it is safe to feel their feelings.

Thank you for taking the time to inquire and giving us the opportunity to share what we do.

One fourth of our children have a parent absent due to incarceration, suicide, over-dose, murder and other substance abuse related deaths.  Thank you for your interest in Horses Healing Hearts.

Link between Adolescent Pot Smoking and Psychosis Strengthens

An important article.

 

 Research presented at a Berlin psychiatric conference shows teenage cannabis use hastens onset of schizophrenia in vulnerable individuals

 
Link between Adolescent Pot Smoking and Psychosis Strengthens
Credit: Sean Gallup Getty Images
 

BERLIN—Society’s embrace of cannabis to treat nausea, pain and other conditions proceeds apace with the drive to legalize the plant for recreational use. Pot’s seemingly innocuous side effects have helped clear a path toward making it a legal cash crop, with all of the marketing glitz brought to other consumer products. But that clean bill of health only goes so far. Marijuana’s potentially detrimental impact on the developing brains of adolescents remains a key focus of research—particularly because of the possibility teenage users could go on to face a higher risk of psychosis.

New findings may fuel those worries. At the World Psychiatric Association’s World Congress in Berlin on October 9, Hannelore Ehrenreich of the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine presented results of a study of 1,200 people with schizophrenia. The investigation analyzed a wide range of genetic and environmental risk factors for developing the debilitating mental illness. The results—being submitted for publication—show people who had consumed cannabis before age 18 developed schizophrenia approximately 10 years earlier than others. The higher the frequency of use, the data indicated, the earlier the age of schizophrenia onset. In her study neither alcohol use nor genetics predicted an earlier time of inception, but pot did. “Cannabis use during puberty is a major risk factor for schizophrenia,” Ehrenreich says.

Other studies, although not all, support the thrust of Ehrenreich’s findings. “There is no doubt,” concludes Robin Murray, a professor of psychiatry at King’s College London, that cannabis use in young people increases the risk of developing schizophrenia as an adult. Speaking at the Berlin conference, Murray—one of the first scientists to research pot’s link to the disorder—cited 10 studies that found a significant risk of young cannabis users developing psychosis. He also mentioned three other studies that identified a clear trend but had a sample size that was too small to reach statistical significance. “The more [cannabis] you take—and the higher the potency—the greater the risk,” he contends, warning this makes the increasingly potent new strains of marijuana especially concerning.

In an interview Murray said his research with users in London has shown that high-potency cannabis—approximately 16 percent THC(tetrahydrocannabinol)—was involved in 24 percent of all cases of a first episode of psychosis. (New laws permitting recreational pot use do not make it legal for teens to consume cannabis, but that has not impeded access.)

Interpretations of these new findings are hardly likely to receive universal acceptance. Questions about the cannabis–psychosis link have persisted for years. “The available data on this subject is far from definitive—particularly with regard to any potential cause-and-effect relationship,” notes Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, a U.S. organization that advocates marijuana legalization for adults. “For instance, increased cannabis use by the public has not been followed by a proportional rise in diagnoses of schizophrenia or psychosis.”

In 2015 the Toronto-based International Center for Science in Drug Policy issued a report—“State of the Evidence: Cannabis Use and Regulation”—that detailed this discrepancy. It cited a British study that estimated the significant rise in pot use should have produced, between 1990 and 2010, a 29 percent increase in schizophrenia cases among men and 12 percent among women. But according to other data, during the time when usage was thought to have grown most (1996 to 2005), the number of new schizophrenia cases remained stable or declined. “These findings strongly suggest that cannabis use does not cause schizophrenia,” the center’s report notes.

Another speaker at the Berlin conference—Beat Lutz, a neurochemist at the University of Mainz—described the mechanisms by which the drug might produce deleterious effects in a young person’s brain. The main psychoactive compound in marijuana, THC, disrupts the normal flow of signals among brain cells—a process normally regulated by chemicals called endocannabinoids.

These compounds occur naturally in the body and activate a type of cellular docking site (called the cannabinoid type 1, or CB1, receptor) to “act like a circuit breaker,” Lutz says, keeping the brain’s level of signaling activity or “excitation” within a normal range. Too little endocannabinoid signaling results in excessive excitation of the nervous system, and this can promote anxiety disorders, impulsivity and epilepsy. Too much activity has the opposite effect and can promote depression, for example. Upsetting the information flows regulated by the endocannabinoid system has also been linked to psychosis.

THC acts differently from endocannabinoids. It does not break down rapidly in the body the way natural endocannabinoids do, Lutz says, noting this sustained activation causes serious wide-ranging disturbances in the brain. Low doses of THC may reduce anxiety but high doses can heighten it, and chronic overstimulation of CB1 receptors by THC shuts down the body’s natural endocannabinoid signaling system by eliminating the CB1 receptors from neurons, Lutz adds. In addition, new research reveals mitochondria—the organelles within cells that generate energy for cellular metabolism—also have CB1 receptors. THC inhibits mitochondrial activity, reducing the cells’ vital energy supply, he says, citing a 2016 paper published in Nature. Perhaps most critically, he believes THC’s disruption of endocannabinoid signaling in the early teen brain can hinder key neurodevelopmental processes that involve the CB1 receptors, thereby impairing brain communication permanently.

Recent research on marijuana is starting to address the type of questions that might ordinarily be revealed via lengthy clinical trials during the development of a pharmaceutical. This process is occurring as the legalization bandwagon picks up speed. Marijuana is increasingly taking a place alongside Johnny Walker and Yellow Tail on the credenza—no longer stashed away in a drawer within. In the U.S. marijuana use among high school seniors is more common than smoking cigarettes. The researchers at the Berlin conference discussed the need to alert the public about worrying new findings. “As physicians, we need to say clearly what is happening and what is not,” says Peter Falkai, a psychiatrist at the Munich Center for Neurosciences at Ludwig Maximilian University. “Looking into the data, clearly yes, the data show increasing risk of psychosis.”

Short Film “Just Breathe” Help Kids Deal With Emotions

View this very important topic on how to help kids deal with emotions

https://amysmartgirls.com/short-film-just-breathe-helps-kids-deal-with-emotions-1b4f91dac5ad

 

Just Breathe

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Trust in a Healing Relationship as a Trauma Survivor

Reprinted with permission from author. A very well respected therapist in Virginia.

How to Trust in a Healing Relationship as a Trauma Survivor

trust after trauma

It’s good, healthy and human to want love and seek it out. We live longer, healthier lives when we feel close to someone safe. Some people feel painfully disconnected, and long to open up to others. But then they stop themselves from reaching out.

As therapists, we want to empower people to build more meaningful connections. For all of us, healthy relationships matter. In fact, deep relationships are essential to life as a healthy human being. For trauma survivors, the act of deepening relationships in a healthy way can be particularly difficult.

Well-meant urging or pressure to reach out in a time of need does not work for those who have experienced trauma. Something seemingly simple like accepting a compliment may be painfully hard. But the ability to integrate these fears and hesitations is crucial to our work in helping others live a fuller, more balanced life.

Why Entering a Healing Relationship Is Challenging for Trauma Survivors

I want to offer some thoughts to help people explore, rather than criticize themselves for their struggle to connect with others. There are good reasons trauma survivors resist forming deeper relationships. It seems impossible to become vulnerable enough (and stay safe) to admit what they want or need, let alone share it. Self-imposed isolation has become a way to cope:

  • Some feel they should hunker down and handle their struggles themselves.
  • Some tell themselves, “Nobody will get it.”
  • Often, trauma survivors feel ashamed or weak—like they don’t deserve support or compassion.
  • For some, it’s the only way they have felt somewhat safe in the past – to be alone!

A trauma-informed approach can guide therapy to help clients see these critical or isolating parts from a new angle. By exploring them, instead of rejecting them, the self-understanding and compassion needed for friendships and relationships can grow stronger. Therapy can be a truly emotionally corrective relationship, where the client learns that having a witness accept their feelings and history allows them to feel safer than ever before!

Trauma creates an urgent need to protect. To a person with a trauma history, a barrier to connection is like a life preserver, as it is believed that disconnection keeps them safe, and then in turn it validates a person’s needs for safety. Instead of criticizing themselves for their barriers, clients can explore curiosity about them, for example: “Is there a self-protector part inside you who says: “I’m going to withdraw and stay safe so you don’t hurt me”?

In addition, trauma-informed therapy can offer clients a vision of what healthy connections look like. For example, we can support them in exploring positive affirmations like this:

I deserve deep relationships. I welcome feeling cared for and nurtured. I accept another’s compassion. People care about me—and it’s healthy to lean on them and ask for help when I need it.

In part, healing trauma involves discovering what it means to have healthy relationships. Here are three concepts I like to share in therapy, to help clients move forward into deeper relationships:

1. There is tremendous healing power that comes from repairing wounds in healthy relationships.

No relationship is perfect. But misunderstandings don’t have to hurt forever. When something injures a healthy relationship, we address it. We clear it up. We heal the injury. We create what we therapists call a corrective emotional experience.

When clients experience relationship trauma, particularly as children, they often learn “put up and shut up” as a go-to coping skill. But this creates other problems later in life. Hiding hurts and withdrawing from a relationship when discomfort preempts the opportunity to heal misunderstandings. Trauma survivors often become adults, without the power of relationship repair tools.

Sometimes, disconnects happen in therapy. Dr. Suzanne LaCombe calls them misattunements in her story about having corrective emotional experiences with a client.

Healing misattunements is enormously valuable. Therapy can provide vital healing experiences by encouraging safety and trust, and providing positive results when a client brings up feeling bad about something that happened in session.

Witnessing feedback about our own insensitivity, when clients are brave enough to share that something we said or did, didn’t sit well with them doesn’t mean we’re bad therapists. Healing this rift can be a huge therapeutic strength as LaCombe’s story explains. When we care enough to respond to hurt feelings with understanding, and give the apology or clarification a client needs, we create the uplifting healing experience of relationship repair. Maybe for the first time in their lives, they see how a painful disconnect can become a point of healing and deeper re-connection.

Corrective emotional experiences can transform a maladaptive idea such as “suck it up” into a useful tool for further healing, such as “speak up,” first inside the safety of therapy, and later, in healthier relationships outside of therapy.

We can help clients learn that having healthy relationships can repair even old emotional wounds.

2. In a healthy relationship with yourself, you can question unrealistic standards you may be holding yourself to, and soothe self-criticism with compassion.

A healthy therapeutic relationship can help clients see different parts of themselves. We can witness where they seem strong, where they seem hurt, and be curious about how these parts might relate (or integrate) in a more compassionate way.

Curiosity is a powerful therapeutic tool we can offer trauma survivors.

For example, we can encourage them to think about how their inner world may actually contain different parts, with different abilities and needs. Clients may more easily recognize the adult, the part they hold accountable, the part that takes responsibility. They may readily see a harsh critical advisor. But what about their more tender human needs for emotional connection? What about the hurt parts such as a scared inner child?

The same adult who would offer compassion to another person can learn to extend this same support to the child or hurt place inside.

By encouraging curiosity about nurturing rather than criticizing parts of themselves, we can help clients use new resources to feed the wise adult parts. They can then learn to help hurt parts heal and grow.

I recommend Kristin Neff’s phenomenal book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself and Lisa Ferentz’s new book, Finding Your Ruby Slippers: Transformative Life Lessons from the Therapist’s Couch.

3. Consider the opportunity for secure attachment in the current relationships they have been able to develop as an adult.

Trauma survivors may have experienced relationships as unsafe places to open up. But that may not be true of current relationships.

It takes encouragement and intention to explore unknown parts of a current relationship. As therapists, we can witness what we notice about the strengths and potential capacity for support and love in what we see.

We can witness, or be curious about what a client expects from a current relationship. For example, we can ask if they expect to be a giver, accepting nothing in return. Therapy can support a client in noticing the nature of the relationship he or she actually has, how to find resources for self-nurture and support, and the real opportunity for healing in secure attachment in current relationships

At first, it may feel strange or even risky to see the true depth of the love, support and compassion that caring friends or family members can — and want to — provide.

A real chance for greater emotional connection, safety and security may be closer than our clients think. The awareness to look at relationships objectively and consider this potential .

Allowing the Heart Open to Compassion, Support and Deeper Relationships

Asking for help can be especially difficult for those who have survived trauma. Learning to allow the heart to open takes courage, time and responsive, compassionate support.

Through trauma-informed therapy, it’s possible to help people realize that they do truly deserve deep relationships as they grow and change through life—in the good times and the hard times.

More Resources

Why Corrective Emotional Experiences are Important by D. Suzanne LaCombe

Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr. Kristin Neff

Finding Your Ruby Slippers: Transformative Life Lessons from the Therapist’s Couch by Lisa Ferentz

More From Our Blog

Healthy Relationships Matter More Than We Think by Robyn Brickel

How to Find Healing in Relationships After Trauma by Robyn Brickel

Trauma’s Impact on Relationships: Finding New Skills to Talk Through Relationship Pain by Robyn Brickel

Uncomfortable with Compliments? Why Being Able to Take In Kind Words is So Important by Robyn Brickel

 

Why Close Encounters With Animals Soothe Us

Chapter 3 of Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There” culminates with Alice’s coming to a wood “where things have no names.” Immediately upon entering, she is unable to identify anything around her, knows not what to call herself or the surrounding trees or the strangely fearless fawn that soon approaches. Mutually enchanted, the two commence walking along together in utter peace and calm, Alice’s arm cradling the fawn as they go. The assuaging grace of this trance is broken only upon coming to a clearing where name recognition returns and the startled fawn bounds away in fright, leaving Alice bereft and forlorn.

Carroll’s parable about the distancing effects of human consciousness and language has particular resonance at a time when close encounters with nonhuman animals are increasingly being sought to heal our psychic and social woes. It is, in effect, a kind of wood with no names into which animal therapy allows its participants entrance. At equine-therapy programs like Compton Jr. Posse in Los Angeles (pictured here), inner-city adolescents find a refuge from drugs and street-gang culture by developing equestrian skills and learning to regard the knowing gazes of 1,000-plus-pound horses and guide their beguiling power. In return for striving in school, the program’s participants, ranging in age from 8 to 18, are taught to ride horses, groom them and clean their stables. These experiences keep them within what Mayisha Akbar, the founder of Compton Jr. Posse, calls the horse’s “personal circle.” Horses have a profound effect on humans. “Whether they have a physical handicap or an emotional handicap or a mental handicap, when you’re around a horse,” Akbar says, “the energy is so powerful that it tunes the body up. That’s why there are so many therapeutic riding programs, because they do see physical changes in people who are around horses.”

Continue reading the main story

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Eniko Barber, Age 9

“We both trust each other. So if I feel scared, he will feel scared, and he might stop sometimes. And then if I feel confident, he feels confident and he would jump for me.”

— Interviews by Hallie Bateman CreditIlona Szwarc for The New York Times

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Kenneth Player, Age 14 (Left)

“Most people, they don’t have the horse environment. They say, ‘Ah, I don’t want to ride a horse.’ They’re scared. They probably just see horses on TV and that’s it. When they actually learn about them and start doing the things you can do with horses, they go, ‘Oh, now I want to ride them.’ ”

Assata Allison, Age 18 (Right)

“I have seen the kids change. The boys that were once loud and rowdy, they come here, and well, they are hyped from school, but they come here and they’re calm and they want to talk to the horses, and I’ve noticed with the girls also, they’ve become more open.”CreditIlona Szwarc for The New York Times

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Asia Carter-Thomas, Age 10

“I feel like there’s a piece of my heart missing if I don’t ride a horse. Just the feeling that you get when you ride and you trot and you jump. It feels like you are soaring through the sky and you don’t have a care in the world. Reality can’t even catch up behind you. You’re just free. Until you get off the horse, of course. Then reality catches up to you so fast that you’re stunned and shocked.” CreditIlona Szwarc for The New York Times

Something extraordinary occurs when we’re in the presence of a fellow sentient being. When we let go of language’s tacit conceptual constraints and judgments, we allow ourselves a kind of time travel toward our own inner animal. Science is revealing the ways that the physiology of our psychology can be found across species: the common neuronal structures and attendant nerve wirings that we share in varying measures with a startling array of both vertebrates and invertebrates, including fellow primates, elephants, whales, parrots, bees and fruit flies. Animal therapy makes us aware of this cross-species interconnectivity on the purest, subconscious level.

It has been established that the tactile element alone in animal therapy releases endorphins, so called feel-good hormones that counteract the trauma hormones of adrenaline and cortisol. But neuroscience is also revealing the ways in which the brain’s neural networks can be both experientially marred and therapeutically mended. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, among many others, have demonstrated the brain’s “neuroplasticity” by showing that the mere act of meditation and thinking compassionate thoughts can physically alter and enhance the wiring of the brain’s empathic pathways. Felicity de Zulueta, a psychiatrist who worked with victims of extreme trauma, including former child soldiers in Uganda, at Maudsley Hospital in London, told me that the healing of trauma has physical correlatives in the brain just as assaults on our psyches do, forging new neuronal connections that bypass the traumatically scarred regions.

Continue reading the main story

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Nathan Williams-​Bonner, Age 22

“I don’t know if you’ve seen ‘Avatar.’ It’s like when you connect the hair to the thing and they become one, in a way. In the moment of riding in the ring, that moment when the horse is so focused and listening to everything you ask. It’s like that, in a way. Full-blown connection, your horse is listening to every response that you do.” CreditIlona Szwarc for The New York Times

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Adrina Player, age 10

“I’m just doing flat classes and equitation right now, but I’m working on jumping. I think it’s cool and it’s like you’re flying up in the air.” CreditIlona Szwarc for The New York Times

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Gabrielle Lashley, age 11

“You need confidence and concentration. Concentration to control your horse and make sure he or she is O.K., and then confidence to get on a horse, because without confidence, you don’t want to get out there.” CreditIlona Szwarc for The New York Times

The degree of neurogenesis stimulated by animal therapy, and how lasting the effects might be, is difficult to measure. But therapists involved in such programs speculate that their benefits actually derive from shutting down for a time some of our brain’s higher and sometimes cacophonous cognitive functions. It seems akin to a phenomenon observed in recent neuroimaging studies of the effects of psychedelics on the brain’s of people with severe depression. Rather than augmenting higher-level consciousness, a substance like psilocybin actually shuts down our brain’s ego center, which, under duress, can confer crippling fear, guilt and insecurity, and instead allows people access to their unfettered emotions and sense of childlike wonder. Allows them, in other words, a mind-altering walk in the wood with no names.

Leslie Martin, a trauma-recovery specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs, told me a story about a former Marine in her care whom she was having great difficulty getting to open up about his inner turmoil and daily struggles. A strapping figure with a hardened mien to match, he was sitting one day in front of Martin’s desk, diffident and deflective as usual, when from behind him, Martin’s dog, a large boxer-shepherd mix named Cassie, approached and settled her head on the Marine’s arm.

“He looked down,” Martin recalls, “and she just gave him a little lick, and suddenly I couldn’t stop him from crying. Just that connection set free all of this stuff inside of him. She was the catalyst. There’s that ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ thing that happens. That’s real.”

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Morganne Craig, age 9

“If you kind of have the same personality as the horse, you two kind of have a good match together. The trainer will put you with a certain horse because, like Lanie, she’s very dramatic, and I’m dramatic, that’s why we’re such a good pair. And she’s fast, and I’m fast. Like when I’m dancing, I need to learn to slow down, and when she’s cantering, she needs to learn to slow down.” CreditIlona Szwarc for The New York Times

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Zereeseis Player, age 12 (left)

“They taught me how to be respectful, they taught me how to listen, they’ve taught me not to be disobedient to others, and treat people like they want to be treated.”

Farrah Akbar, age 8 (right, founder Mayisha Akbar’s granddaughter)

“The first time I rode a horse when I was 3. We had a pony at our ranch. His name was Bugsy. I got on Bugsy, he was going too fast, I fell off and got right back on. I would say, if you’ve never seen a horse or touched a horse, just touch it. Because if you touch it, then you’ll feel the soul.” CreditIlona Szwarc for The New York Times

Continue reading the main story

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Zoie Brogdon, age 12

“To me, horses are not like a pet but more like a team. We work together, we get everything done, and we have fun. It’s like a par

Childhood Trauma and Equine Therapy

The ACE Pyramid represents the conceptual framework for the study. During the time period of the 1980s and early 1990s information about risk factors for disease had been widely researched and merged into public education and prevention programs. However, it was also clear that risk factors, such as smoking, alcohol abuse, and sexual behaviors for many common diseases were not randomly distributed in the population. In fact, it was known that risk factors for many chronic diseases tended to cluster, that is, persons who had one risk factor tended to have one or more other risk factors too.

Because of this knowledge, the ACE Study was designed to assess what we considered to be “scientific gaps” about the origins of risk factors. These gaps are depicted as the two arrows linking Adverse Childhood Experiences to risk factors that lead to the health and social consequences higher up the pyramid. Specifically, the study was designed to provide data that would help answer the question: “If risk factors for disease, disability, and early mortality are not randomly distributed, what influences precede the adoption or development of them?” By providing information to answer this question, we hoped to provide scientific information that would be useful for developing new and more effective prevention programs.

The ACE Study takes a whole life perspective, as indicated on the orange arrow leading from conception to death. By working within this framework, the ACE Study began to progressively uncover how adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are strongly related to development and prevalence of risk factors for disease and health and social well-being throughout the lifespan.

ACE pyramid

Types of Adverse Childhood Experiences (Birth to 18)

Abuse as a Child

Neglect as a Child

Trauma in Child’s Household

Impacts of Childhood Trauma and Adoption of Health Risks to Ease the Pain of Adverse Childhood Experiences can be:

Neurobiological Impacts

Health Risks

Adults who are facing the residual effects of trauma in their lives have a lot on their plate. From handling the emotions surrounding the trauma to the potential physical side effects of it, those negatively effected by either one or more traumatic events can seek all kinds of treatment for their issues. The most common treatment options for trauma victims usually include individual therapy, group therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), hypnosis, and medication. While all these methods have proven to give trauma patients great success, many adults are looking for more unconventional methods of trauma therapy to get a better handle on their existing problems.

For many of these trauma patients, the interest in equine therapy and its benefits has sparked a great deal of interest. The partnership between a recovering trauma victim and a horse can provide a promise for the future for these patients. Depending on the type of trauma that a person has experienced, equine therapy can be tailored to helping them address their most pressing issues all while giving them the confidence needed to move forward.

One of the primary benefits of equine therapy is way in which a horse can rebuild a sense of trust and respect into a person who has lot their faith in these character qualities. Horses are extremely in tune with the energies around them, so for example, if a person is shaky, nervous, or upset, the horse will react to that energy. They will “join the herd” so to speak, and instead of acting as a source of strength, will reflect the persons emotions. As this becomes understood, the trauma patient begins to learn how to relax, stay calm, and keep a level head around their horse as a means to have the same effect rub off on them. By being a source of calm for their horse, they will open up the doors for a relationship where trust is built, and in turn can use this tactic in their everyday lives with those around them as opposed to shutting people out as a result of trauma.

As a trust is build, a non-verbal communication can begin between the patient and the horse. Obviously people and horses do not speak the same language, but through positive and negative inflection in tone of voice, hand movements, and appropriate energies, a person can begin to communicate with their horse in a way that can be reciprocated. This communication not only opens the patients eyes to different ways of communicating, but also allows for them to feel a sense of accomplishment as they have succeeded in something they might not have ever thought they could.

Equine therapy also provides a positive outlet for anger, frustration, sadness, and confusion for a trauma patient as he or she puts their energy towards something positive that provides a sense of reward and accomplishment. The care that gets developed between horse and patient is extremely important, as these skills will be repeated by the patient in his or her own personal life.

While equine therapy has not yielded a large amount of research and study just yet, it continues to grow in its own right as more and more adults seek alternative treatment for their trauma. Equine therapy can help adults who are looking to resolve trauma caused by loss, natural disaster, physical injury, anxiety, and more. Through the development of a one-on-one relationship with a horse, a patient will learn to work on their communication skills, build trust, release anger positively, and develop a strong sense of self-worth and confidence.

Contact Herd By A Horse today to schedule a session to begin to address your own adverse childhood experiences.

 

Healing Your Trauma With Equine Therapy


Healing Your Trauma With Equine Therapy

May 13, 2017

9:00 AM- 3:30 PM
Discover new techniques for dealing with trauma you have experienced. Through the magic of horses and experiential exercises, you will be able to experience positive ways to deal with a past history of trauma. All exercises are non-riding. Horses have a unique ability to sense surrounding emotions and their environment. The workshop facilitators and the horses allow you to participate in experiential exercises that are meant to heal and aid in your recovery from traumatic events either current or past. You will gain a new understanding about yourself and your relationships so that you may be able to leave this workshop and practice these new skills in all of the areas of your life. Come heal with the horses at Herd By A Horse.

$125.00 PER PERSON

FACILITATED BY: DAVID ROSENKER, STEF BROK

REGISTRATION DEADLINE May 8, 2017

INCLUDES : CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND REFRESHMENTS

HERD BY A HORSE- A 501C3 PRIVATE, NON-PROFIT COMPANY
858 Christmas Village Road
Bernville, PA 19506

www.HerdByAHorse.com

Cash and credit card accepted.
Email: info@HerdByAHorse.com for further information.
Registration-

Or call: 610-914-6106
Cash, Check, Credit Card Accepted


Number of Participants



 

 

Equine Therapy For Couples

EAP-Couples-2-EWS
EQUINE THERAPY FOR COUPLES

June 3, 2017

9:00 AM- 3:00 PM
Did you ever think that the missing piece to improving communication styles, conflict resolution, self-expression and your relationship just might be…A HORSE! Come experience the power of Equine Therapy for yourself. Relationships are not always easy; they take constant focus and hard work yet all that work can pay off in the long run. Often couples have tried many different approaches to improve their communication and relationship. This workshop is designed for any couple that wants to focus on their communication skills and improving their relationship dynamics. Utilizing Equine Therapy to build your relationship skills is a relaxed, interesting way to learn new ways to talk to each other. You and your partner will walk away with very specific tools that you can begin to use immediately. No need for any prior horse experience. This is a non-riding experience. Call David for more details- (610) 914-6106.

$145.00 PER COUPLE

FACILITATED BY: DAVID ROSENKER, STEF BROK

REGISTRATION DEADLINE May 28, 2017

INCLUDES : CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND REFRESHMENTS

HERD BY A HORSE- A 501C3 PRIVATE, NON-PROFIT COMPANY
858 Christmas Village Road
Bernville, PA 19506

www.HerdByAHorse.com

Cash and credit card accepted.
Email: info@HerdByAHorse.com for further information.
Registration-

Or call: 610-914-6106
Cash, Check, Credit Card Accepted


Number of Participants
Couples Workshop Registration



 

 

 

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Couples Communication and Equine Therapy Workshop

EAP-Couples-2-EWS
COUPLES COMMUNICATION AND EQUINE THERAPY
July 18, 2015

9:00 AM- 3:00 PM
Did you ever think that the missing piece to improving communication styles, conflict resolution, self-expression and your relationship just might be…A HORSE! Come experience the power of Equine Therapy for yourself. Relationships are not always easy; they take constant focus and hard work yet all that work can pay off in the long run. Often couples have tried many different approaches to improve their communication and relationship. This workshop is designed for any couple that wants to focus on their communication skills and improving their relationship dynamics. Utilizing Equine Therapy to build your relationship skills is a relaxed, interesting way to learn new ways to talk to each other. You and your partner will walk away with very specific tools that you can begin to use immediately. No need for any prior horse experience. This is a non-riding experience. Call David for more details- (610) 914-6106.

$120.00 PER COUPLE

FACILITATED BY: DAVID ROSENKER, STEF BROK

REGISTRATION DEADLINE JULY 13, 2015

INCLUDES : CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND REFRESHMENTS

HERD BY A HORSE- A PRIVATE NON-PROFIT COMPANY
858 Christmas Village Road
Bernville, PA 19506

www.HerdByAHorse.com

Cash and credit card accepted.
Email: info@HerdByAHorse.com for further information.
Registration-
www.herdbyahorse.com
Or call: 610-914-6106
Cash, Check, Credit Card Accepted

Social and Emotional Parent Toolkit

Social and emotional intelligence involves understanding your feelings and behaviors, as well as those of others, and applying this knowledge to your interactIMG_3245ions and relationships. Research has shown that those with high emotional intelligence have better attention skills and fewer learning problems, and are generally more successful in academic and workplace settings. The concepts highlighted in the Parent Toolkit are based on CASEL’s five interrelated sets of competencies. Many social and emotional skills are developed over time, and some adults are stronger in this area than others, as is the case with children. We offer the information below to help you support your child’s social and emotional development, and to reflect on your own skills in the process.

Follow the link below to see parent suggestions for each grade level K-12.

http://www.parenttoolkit.com/index.cfm?objectid=50A8EC10-32D8-11E4-B03B0050569A5318

Contact Herd By A Horse to see how equine therapy can assist you and your children on this path.

Making Caring Common

Our youth’s values appear to be awry, and the messages that adults are sending may be at the heart of the problem.

According to our recent national survey, a large majority of youth across a wide spectrum of races, cultures, and classes appear to value aspects of personal success—achievement and happiness— over concern for others.

We asked youth to rank what was most important to them: achieving at a high level, happiness (feeling good most of the time), or caring for others. Almost 80% of youth picked high achievement or happiness as their top choice, while roughly 20% selected caring for others. Youth also ranked fairness low in relation to several other values. For example, they were far more likely to rank “hard work” above fairness. Some youth made it quite clear to us that their self-interest is paramount: “If you are not happy, life is nothing. After that, you want to do well. And after that, expend any excess energy on others.”

IMG_3245Happiness, working hard, and achievement clearly are important values. There are also important individual race, class, and cultural differences in how people understand achievement, hard work, and happiness.

But when youth do not prioritize caring and fairness over these aspects of personal success —and when they view their peers as even less likely to prioritize these ethical values— they are at greater risk of many forms of harmful behavior, including being cruel, disrespectful, and dishonest. These forms of harm are far too commonplace. Half of high school students admit to cheating on a test and nearly 75% admit to copying someone else’s homework (Josephson Institute, 2012). Nearly 30% of middle and high school students reported being bullied during the 2010-2011 school year (NCES, 2013). In that same year, over half of girls in grades 7-12 reported at least one episode of sexual harassment at school (Hill & Kearl, 2011).

Any healthy civil society also depends on adults who are committed to their communities and who, at pivotal times, will put the common good before their own. We don’t seem to be preparing large numbers of youth to create this society.

At the root of this problem may be a rhetoric/reality gap, a gap between what parents and other adults say are their top priorities and the real messages they convey in their behavior day to day. Most parents and teachers say that developing caring children is a top priority and rank it as more important than children’s achievements (Bowman et al., 2012; Suizzo, 2007).

horse5But according to our data, youth aren’t buying it. About 80% of the youth in our survey report that their parents are more concerned about achievement or happiness than caring for others. A similar percentage of youth perceive teachers as prioritizing students’ achievements over their caring.

Below are a set of guideposts to raising caring, respectful, and ethical children, along with tips for putting them into action. These guideposts are supported by many studies and by the work that various organizations have conducted over several decades with families across America.

1. Work to develop caring, loving relationships with your kids

Why?  Children learn caring and respect when they are treated that way. When our children feel loved, they also become attached to us. That attachment makes them more receptive to our values and teaching.

How? Loving our children takes many forms, such as tending to their physical and emotional needs, providing a stable and secure family environment, showing affection, respecting their individual personalities, taking a genuine interest in their lives, talking about things that matter, and affirming their efforts and achievements.

Try this:

1. Regular time together. Plan regular, emotionally intimate time with your children. Some parents and caretakers do this through nightly bedtime reading or other shared activity. Some build one-on-one time with their children into their weekly schedules rather than leaving it to chance. You might, for example, spend one Saturday afternoon a month with each of your children doing something you both enjoy.

2. Meaningful conversation. Whenever you have time with your child, take turns asking each other questions that bring out your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Ask questions such as:

• “What was the best part of your day? The hardest part?”

  • “What did you accomplish today that you feel good about?”
  • “What’s something nice someone did for you today? What’s something nice you

    did?”

  • “What’s something you learned today—in school or outside of school?”

2. Be a strong moral role model and mentor.

Why? Children learn ethical values and behaviors by watching our actions and the actions of other adults they respect. Children will listen to our teaching when we walk the talk.

How? Pay close attention to whether you are practicing honesty, fairness, and caring yourself and modeling skills like solving conflicts peacefully and managing anger and other difficult emotions effectively. But, nobody is perfect all the time. That is why it’s important for us, in fact, to model for children humility, self-awareness, and honesty by acknowledging and working on our mistakes and flaws. It’s also important for us to recognize what might be getting in the way of our own caring. Are we, for example, exhausted or stressed? Does our child push our buttons in a specific way that makes caring for her or him hard at times? And remember, children will only want to become like us if they trust and respect us. Adults can reflect on whether our children respect us and, if we think they don’t, consider why, and how we might repair the relationship.

Try this:

  •  Service. Regularly engage in community service or model other ways of contributing to a community. Even better, consider doing this with your child.
  • Honesty and humility. Talk with your child when you make a mistake that affects them about why you think you made it, apologize for the mistake, and explain how you plan to avoid making the mistake next time.
  • Check-in with others. Reflect and consult with people you trust when you’re finding it hard to be caring or to model important ethical qualities like fairness.
  • Take care of yourself. Whether it’s spending time with a friend, going for a walk, praying or meditating, try to make time to relieve your stress both because it’s important for you and because it will enable you to be more attentive to and caring with others.

3. Make caring for others a priority and set high ethical expectations.

Why? It’s very important that children hear from their parents and caretakers that caring about others is a top priority and that it is just as important as their own happiness. Even though most parents and caretakers say that their children being caring is a top priority, often children aren’t hearing that message.

How? A big part of prioritizing caring is holding children to high ethical expectations, such as honoring their commitments, doing the right thing even when it is hard, standing up for important principles of fairness and justice, and insisting that they’re respectful, even if it makes them unhappy and even if their peers or others aren’t behaving that way.

Try this:

  • A clear message. Consider the daily messages you send to children about the importance of caring. For example, instead of saying to children “The most important thing is that you’re happy,” you might say “The most important thing is that you’re kind and that you’re happy.”
  • Prioritize caring when you talk with other key adults in your children’s lives. For example, ask teachers and coaches whether your children are good community members in addition to asking about their academic skills, grades, or performance.
  •  Encourage kids to “work it out.” Before letting your child quit a sports team, band, or a friendship, ask them to consider their obligations to the group or the friend, and encourage them to work out problems.

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4. Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude.

Why? Children need practice caring for others and being grateful—it’s important for them to express appreciation for the many people who contribute to their lives. Studies show that people who engage in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving — and they’re also more likely to be happy and healthy.

How? Learning to be grateful and caring is in certain respects like learning to play a sport or an instrument. Daily repetition — whether it’s helping a friend with homework, pitching in around the house, having a classroom job, or routinely reflecting on what we appreciate about others — and increasing challenges make caring and gratitude second nature and develop children’s caregiving capacities. Hold family meetings that give children practice helping to solve family problems such as squabbles between siblings, hassles getting off to school, and making meals more pleasant. Although as parents and caretakers we always need to stand firmly behind key values such as caring and fairness, we can make our home democratic in key respects, asking our children to express their views while they listen to ours. Involving children in making plans to improve family life teaches perspective-taking and problem- solving skills and gives them an authentic responsibility: becoming co-creators of a happy family.

Try this:

  • Real responsibilities. Expect children to routinely help, for example, with household chores and siblings, and only praise uncommon acts of kindness. When these kinds of routine actions are simply expected and not rewarded, they’re more likely to become ingrained in every day actions.
  • Make caring and justice a focus. Start conversations with children about the caring and uncaring acts they see in their daily lives or on television and about acts of justice and injustice they might witness or hear about in the news, such as a person who stood up for an important cause or an instance of sexism or racism. Ask children how they see these actions and explain why you think these actions are caring or uncaring, just or unjust.
  • Expressing thanks. Consider making expressing gratitude a daily ritual at dinnertime, bedtime, in the car, or on the subway. Encourage children to express appreciation for family members, teachers, or others who contribute to their lives.

5. Expand your child’s circle of concern.

Why? Almost all children empathize with and care about a small circle of families and friends. Our challenge is help children learn to have empathy and care about someone outside that circle, such as a new child in class, someone who doesn’t speak their language, the school custodian, or someone who lives in a distant country.

How? It is important that children learn to zoom in, listening closely and attending to those in their immediate circle, and to zoom out, taking in the big picture and considering the range of people they interact with every day. Children also need to consider how their decisions impact a community. Breaking a school rule, for example, can make it easier for others to break rules. Especially in our more global world, it’s important, too, for children to develop concern for people who live in other cultures and communities.

Try this:

  • Children facing challenges. Encourage children to consider the perspectives and feelings of those who may be vulnerable, such as a new child at school or a child experiencing some family trouble. Give children some simple ideas for taking action, like comforting a classmate who was teased or reaching out to a new student.
  • Zooming out. Use newspaper or TV stories to start conversations with children about other people’s hardships and challenges, or simply the different experiences of children in another country or community.
  • Listening. Emphasize with your child the importance of really listening to others, especially those people who may seem unfamiliar and who may be harder to immediately understand.

6. Promote children’s ability to be ethical thinkers and positive change-makers in their communities.

Why? Children are naturally interested in ethical questions and grappling with these ethical questions can help them figure out, for example, what fairness is, what they owe others, and what to do when they have conflicting loyalties. Children are also often interested in taking leadership roles to improve their communities. They want to be forces for good. Many of the most impressive programs to build caring and respect and to stop bullying and cruelty, for example, have been started by children and youth.

How? You can help children become ethical thinkers and leaders by listening to and helping them think through their own ethical dilemmas, such as, “Should I invite a new neighbor to my birthday party when my best friend doesn’t like her?” At the same time, you can provide opportunities for your children to fight injustice in their communities and to strengthen their communities in other ways.

Try this:

  • Taking action. Encourage children to take action against problems that affect them, such as cyberbullying or an unsafe street corner.
  • Joining up. Provide opportunities for children to join causes, whether it’s reducing homelessness, supporting girls’ education in developing countries, calling attention to the plight of abused animals, or any area that is of interest to them.
  • Doing “with.” Encourage children not just to “do for” others but to “do with” others, working with diverse groups of students to respond to community problems.
  • Thinking out loud with your child. Start a conversation about ethical dilemmas that arise on TV shows or give children ethical dilemmas to grapple with at meal times or in other situations. What should they do when a schoolmate tells them bad things about another child? When they see someone cheating on a test or stealing? When they’ve done something wrong and are afraid to admit it to their parents or caretakers?

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7. Help children develop self-control and manage feelings effectively.
Why? Often the ability to care for others is overwhelmed by anger, shame, envy, or other negative feelings.

How? We can teach children that all feelings are ok, but some ways of dealing with them are not useful. Children need our help learning to cope with feelings in productive ways.

Try this:

  • Identifying feelings. Name for children their difficult feelings such as frustration, sadness, and anger and encourage them to talk to you about why they’re feeling that way.
  • 3 steps to self-control. A simple way to help children to manage their feelings is to practice three easy steps together: stop, take a deep breath through the nose and exhale through the mouth, and count to five. Try it when your child is calm. Then, when you see her getting upset, remind her about the steps and do them together.
  • Resolving conflicts. Practice with your child how to resolve conflicts. Consider a conflict you or your child witnessed or experienced that turned out badly, and role play different ways of responding. Try to achieve mutual understanding—listening to and paraphrasing each other’s feelings until both people feel understood. If your child observes you experiencing a difficult feeling and is concerned, talk to your child about how you are handling it.
  • Clear limits. Use authority wisely to set clear boundaries. Explain how your limits are based on a reasonable and loving concern for your child’s welfare.

Raising a caring, respectful, ethical child is and always has been hard work. But it’s something all of us can do. And no work is more important or ultimately more rewarding.

COMING SOON:

ONE DAY WORKSHOP: RAISING CHILDREN THAT CARE- FOR PARENTS AND KIDS

At Herd By A Horse we have designed a workshop that will address common parenting issues and techniques that will address the issues above. all while utilizing the power of horses to assist in delivering the messages.

Join us for a day of fun, learning and wonder. Your kids will love “learning” in a whole new way, you as the parent will love the affirmation and support you will receive.

David Rosenker- Owner/Facilitator Herd By A Horse

Dont want to wait for the workshop? Call to schedule your own individual session at 610-914-6106.

Information from makingcaringcommmon.org

 

Why I Love What I Do…..

The last of this year’s winter is finally on its way out. The snow and ice are gone, yet there is still a chill in the air. The horses are friskier and wanting to play; they have lost a good amount of their winter coat leaving them looking leaner, shinier and all set for the change of season.

 

When Spring arrives, calls tend to increase with people asking for services and inquiring about what Herd by a Horse does. “What is equine therapy?” asks a woman on the phone; traditional therapy is just not working for her son. He is refusing to go back to the therapist any more unless they can see someone that may “understand him more.” She is at a loss, not sure what to do. Force him to go or look into an alternative. “He likes animals” she says, “and I believe he may respond to something like this”.

 

I begin to explain what we do, that’s it’s a little untraditional, and that we do very well with kids whom traditional therapy is difficult. “Many kids don’t like to just go to a therapist and be asked what is going on with them, or tell the person their secrets,” I explain. The magic of equine therapy is the horse does much of the work. I clarify that all of our work is on done on the ground (not riding). Our therapy encompasses experiential activities to encourage discussion and sharing. The mother begins to understand more and we schedule our first appointment. I am anxious to get started with her and her son.

 

This week I was reminded of just how much I love and believe in equine therapy. My partner and I were working with a young girl. She was about 18 years old, had tried numerous treatment methods for substance addiction. She was very open to working with the horses, and seemed to share some valuable insights about herself. As we began to talk about family relationships, she began to share her real pain,” we don’t agree on much”, she says”. “ My brother is the one that everyone likes.” “Me? I am invisible,” she recounts. The sadness, hurt and loss is obvious in her eyes.

 

As we proceeded with the session, in working through exercises with the horses, she stated that she was able to express her feelings more fully and openly. The young girl left the session feeling relieved and more committed to her journey of recovery.

 

 

 

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Another client I am happy to report on: an 11-year-old girl recently came to us because she had been cutting herself and her mom was understandably concerned. The girl’s anxiety, nervousness and restlessness were palatable. We worked on many of these issues through equine therapy; along with some much needed family equine therapy sessions as well.  I just received a call from her mother just to inform me “we have our daughter back”. She was making progress in her social relationships; family life had made many improvements along with the girl’s self worth.

 

Lastly, an adult client who had utilized our equine therapy services to work through relationship issues expressed to me: “I have gotten more in our 6-7 sessions than a whole year of traditional therapy”. The relief was clear upon her face.

 

We have had many examples of the success throughout the years. The gratitude from the people we have seen is profound – equine therapy can be magical and powerful. We are very thankful that so many have experienced significant improvement in the quality of their lives.

 

To see more of what Herd By A Horse can do for you or the ones you love, call 610-914-6106.

Gaining Perspective: Animal-Assisted Therapy as an Alternative Approach for Sexual Abuse Victims

Gaining Perspective: Animal-Assisted Therapy as an Alternative Approach for Sexual Abuse Victims
Home » Abuse » Gaining Perspective: Animal-Assisted Therapy as an Alternative Approach for Sexual Abuse Victims

| Natalia Vélez Santos | August 2014 – Issue 13 | One Comment
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Gaia Altari, “Loose ropes, still tied knots”Today I am twenty-three years old, but I was twenty-one years, two months, and twelve days old when I was raped. It happened on a regular afternoon in my hometown, back in a country that very much differs from this one. I took a cab to go home after a long day of school, just like I had done so many times before, but this day wasn’t meant to end like all the others. And it sure didn’t.

The actual event comes back to me as a series of flashes. A taxi driver takes a route different from the one he was instructed to. Stoplight. Two men hop into the cab, one on each side. The driver accelerates. There’s crying, scratching, and screaming in the back seat, but the car keeps going. One of the men approaches me and undoes his pants, then the other does the same.

“Look at that pretty face…an angel, yet so terrified,” says somebody as they force my legs open.

I don’t look back. The driver turns the music up. A female voice sings: When the man I love takes me in his arms I forget it all. He’s my only hero, he makes me forget it all…

It is now dark outside. No more screaming. The damage is done.

It took me a while to admit that I needed help, and a while more to start looking for it. After all, this was the kind of thing that wasn’t supposed to happen to a girl like me: a princess, raised among privileges available to less than twenty percent of her country’s entire population. Just like most of the horrifying episodes that make the front page of the local newspapers, rape constituted a sort of abstract reality that only took place in a world completely different from mine, an atrocity that I would never be directly exposed to.

My family was crushed, and a poignant feeling of guilt took power over me. Skeptical, I agreed to therapy in order to see my parents smile again, even if it was only for the few seconds that we would speak about the better days to come. During these brief windows of time my mother would evoke all kinds of delightful memories, and my father would transport me to the magical world of poetry that had always brought us together. For entire hours, they would sit on opposite sides of my bed and make me promise that I would do everything in my power to get better. I was determined to fulfill that promise, and so the healing journey began.

First came Dr. #1, a beaming, middle-aged psychologist who would have been patient enough to wait forever in order for me to open up to her, except that I never did. As an answer to my monotonous silence, she would spend our entire sessions rambling about anything she could think of, and answering her own questions in a monologue that at times made me wonder if my presence made any difference at all.

Along came Dr. #2, an archetypal psychoanalyst with his bushy mustache, fancy couch, and leather-covered notepad. Unfortunately, the “talking cure” wouldn’t do it for me either. While I spent countless hours discussing the most intimate details of the day I remembered the most, the world smoothly followed its course without me, the same way that a clock hanging in the next room will keep ticking even if we remain in this one.

Just as I was about to give up and assume that I would have to live a double life — in which I appeared to be doing alright but was actually afraid and miserable — Dr. #3 crossed my path. I must admit that after my previous experiences I had lost all faith in therapy, but there was something about this man that made me feel completely at ease. Perhaps it had to do with the simple fact that he reminded me of my father, or that his bookshelf displayed an exquisite copy of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. After all, if there was anyone I trusted more than my father, it was definitely the author of the words that had made me aware of the unrecoverable character of time, a premise that had altered my perception of reality.

Tears came to my eyes as I told #3 what had happened to me. I was now a damaged woman, a woman stained by the evil in the world who bore the fire-heated mark of disgrace on her forehead for all to see. I had been banned from the garden of delights and was doomed to be an outcast. Even today, when I recall the feelings of anger, hopelessness, and dysfunction that I unlocked during those first meetings, I’m not able to identify the exact moment when I started blossoming again. But I did. Months went by, and in spite of my progress I was still lonely and terrified of the world that had so deeply wounded me. I was way too young to give up on everything that life had to offer, but I had tried it all. I had been in therapy for over a year now, and I was starting to believe that my feelings of unpleasantness were indelible traces of an episode that could be digested, but would never entirely vanish.

“Have you ever had a pet before, or even thought about getting one?” said #3 during one of our sessions.

“Are you kidding?” I replied defensively. “I can’t even take care of myself.”

“There you go.”

“The last thing I would want to do is look after another,” I protested. “It would be a complete mess.”

“We’ll see about that.”

So it was that I trusted the man whom I had turned into my own Proustian character, and decided to take home a fuzzy grey kitten with white paws like puffy clouds and big round eyes that awoke in me the purest feelings of compassion. I had never been responsible for anyone other than myself before. In fact, I had never been responsible for anything, which is why looking after Romulo – my very own version of the brave warrior that founded Rome with his brother Remus, turned out to be a double challenge.

Needless to say that the sneaking around, crying, litter-cleaning, sobbing, purring, and eventual cuddling were all new to me, and it took me some time to become aware of the implications of being a pet-owner. tweet

But before I knew it, part of what had been brutally taken from me started coming back, and a desire to open myself to the world found its way back into my everyday actions. I started spending time with my old friends again, and even answered some of their questions about the episode that had drawn me so far apart from them. I bought a new notebook and picked up on my writing (which had unquestionably worsened), signed up for ballet lessons, got an orchid.

Later on, #3 explained how it has been said that animals act as mediators of human-social interactions and how he strongly believed that a relation exists between attachment to an animal and therapeutic gains. Driven by curiosity, I started my own research and learned that studies also suggest that animals have the effect of motivating their owners to engage in constructive conducts, such as taking walks, in the case of dog owners. Apparently, the bonds forged between humans and their pets can result in the reduction of anxiety and facilitation of social exchanges. To the psychologically vulnerable, animals provide an external focus, and this can lead to positive behavioral changes.

My therapy never had anything to do with rituals, and #3 never suggested any special activities that would help me use Romulo to my advantage.

Benefits came from the mere fact of having a new routine that forced me to look after another living being. tweet

It is not about distraction or delegation; I would say it is more about gaining perspective.

I often wonder if it was Romulo, #3, or what #1 had so fervently described as “my inner power,” that has brought me to a point where the dark days have been left so far behind. This, I believe, is a question with no possible answer. I also wonder if any victim of sexual abuse is the right candidate for this alternative method, and haven’t been able to come up with an answer to that either, only that I would highly recommend it. What I do know now is that the princess I once was has come back, even though she has lost her crown. It’s all right. Nowadays, who would want to walk around wearing one anyway?

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TAGS: Abuse, alternative, animals, Anxiety, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Therapy, trauma

Voting Is Live for Kind Causes

Hi,

By now you are familiar with the work I do with Herd By A Horse. This month, we have an exciting opportunity to receive $10,000 in meaningful funding. Here’s where you come in…

What is this about?

I am participating in KIND Causes – a program from KIND Snacks that supports ideas aimed at making the world a little kinder.

Each month, KIND grants $10,000 to people spreading kindness to those in need. The entry that receives the most votes will unlock the funding.

How can you help?

Before the end of January 2015, please consider voting for my cause here: http://causes.kindsnacks.com/cause/herd-by-a-horse-equine-therapy/. Each vote will bring us one step closer to receiving the grant.
By voting you’re committing to doing a “kind act” or good deed of your own. The thought here is that small acts make a BIG impact, and we can all benefit from paying it forward.

What will $10,000 help us accomplish

– Provide a Bullying at the Barn program in some of the local schools here in Berks County

– Help provide logistical and staff support for the curriculim.
As always, I appreciate your support.

Thank you,DAVID ROSENKER
Herd By A Horse
A Private Non Profit Company
Owner/Facilitator
info@herdbyahorse.com
www.herdbyahorse.com
610-914-6106
dr9855@mac.hush.com
Check us out on Facebook, Linkedin and Pintrest

Shop Amazon Smile, enter Herd By A Horse to donate a portion of your sale(.05%) to us. (Does not increase your dollars spent, paid by Amazon)

Vote For Herd By A Horse – Kind Causes

Beginning January 10, 2015 you can log on to http://causes.kindsnacks.com and vote for Herd By A Horse to receive a donation from Kind. This donation would help us to launch our Bullying at the Barn Curriculum in local school districts.

The Bullying at the Barn curriculum is an approved Maryland Education Association curriculum to help students that have been affected by bullying in the schools and home environment.
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Take a moment and mark you calendar to log on to http://causes.kindsnacks.com and vote for us at Herd By A Horse.

Thanks for all of your support thus far. Check back on our website to view our 2015 workshops that we will be offering. The first one is scheduled on January 15, 2015, Ethics and Equine Therapy.
– An Alternate Approach.


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