Somatic Experiencing ® (SE) is one of the most profound methodologies for capturing this sensation, and building upon it. The combination of SE with horses perhaps feels like when Francine Shapiro discovered the profound breakthrough of EMDR, as she walked on that trail by the lake looking from side to side, and at walk’s end, felt immensely better; as a result.
For those of us who work with horses and people, it is no discovery to see how quickly a patient moves into sensing the “calm.” The beauty of SE is that it allows us, as practitioners, to value this part of our patients’ work—to point it out, coax it, and encourage the patient to let it expand— then coach them to orient, by looking all around them, noticing what they see in the present moment.
I recall one patient who stated, “I have never had anything reduce my anxiety from a 9 to a 2 as fast as it does when I am around a horse.” In this example, the patient has her body physiologically experiencing the sensation of calm, and this glimmer is the beginning of the patient’s development of a stronger sense of internal resourcing. When enough of this is experienced, the patient’s sense of “I can” generalizes into their recovery program, and into interactions with their peers and family. When this sense of “I can” is eventually restored enough, it allows us, as practitioners, to work with the patients around their deeper issues for healing. The system is strong enough to “hold” the breakthrough, versus the feeling as if it is “too much.”
Betrayal seems to go straight to the soul. I call it a violation of the spirit. It is no surprise then that what the Lakota tribe call a horse, Shunka Wakan, meaning “Holy Dog,” can heal the wounding of a betrayed soul.
I have had the pleasure of witnessing horses healing souls countless times, and the beginning of this gentle pathway to healing starts with trust. A horse connects in a manner beyond what a human is capable of; whether it is their large soft eyes, their gentle curiosity, their mild mannerisms or careful moves; it lays the foundation for the patient to begin to experience the sensation of trust in a subtle, sometimes unexplainable, most times foreign, but always healing way. This sensation of trust seems to permeate the core of a survivor of betrayal; despite whatever wounds exist, they can experience the sensation of “softness within” versus layers of walls.
We Can Help
Horses are an integral part of our leading-edge treatment at The Meadows Ranch. Our patients learn how to be predictable, trustworthy and communicative from the bonds they establish during our Equine Therapy program.
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