Not So Distant Learning (Equine Assisted Learning)
by Amanda Rothwell and Sue Pash
You probably think of the School of Natural Health Sciences as being a purely distance-learning provider. However we are two students, doing different courses, who have met through the SNHS website and are now networking, and exchanging ideas and skills. Not-so-distant learning perhaps?
Sue has completed SNHS courses in Nutrition, Colour Therapy, Iridology, and Stress Management; while Amanda has completed SNHS courses in Child Psychology, Psychotherapy & Counselling, Stress Management, Professional Relaxation Therapy, and Meridian Psychotherapy. Each of us are continuing to study with SNHS.
Sue is from Somerset, and is a therapist mainly working with children with ADD/ADHD/ASD and related conditions, and also runs workshops with another therapist. Amanda is from Lancashire, and has over 20 years of equestrian experience, having owned horses since the age of 9. She does equine related therapies, workshops, horse massage, and has taught riding to abled and disabled adults and children. We both run completely unrelated workshops. So what are the links? The answer lies in a rather novel concept: Equine Assisted Learning.
Amanda drove from Lancashire to Somerset to attend a workshop on ADD/ADHD/ASD and related conditions run by Sue. Three months later she travelled down for a “Children Under Stress” workshop, and plans to attend the others in the series on nutrition, and massage therapies for the conditions.
During the workshops everyone was asked to talk about what they were hoping to gain from attending. There was great interest in how Amanda intended to use the information from the workshops and her SNHS courses, in conjunction with her own Equine Assisted Learning training. She planned to offer a truly unique and original package for children with ADD/ADHD/ASD and related conditions, and who like horses.
So what is Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)?
This is how the not-so-distant learning connection was made. So what is Equine Assisted Learning (EAL)? EAL is the professional field in which horses are used as a tool to help facilitate emotional growth and learning. Because of its effectiveness, it is considered a short-term, or brief approach.
EAL is experiential in nature. This means the participants learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with horses and then processing (or discussing) feelings, behaviours and patterns. The focus of EAL is not riding or horsemanship. 95% of EAL is done on the ground and involves activities involving the horses. This requires the client or group to apply certain skills such as non-verbal communication, assertiveness, creative thinking, problem-solving, leadership, work, taking responsibility, teamwork, relationships, confidence and attitude.
EAL is a powerful and effective approach that has an incredible impact on individuals of all ages, families and groups. EAL addresses a variety of human development needs and mental health, including behavioural issues, attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, abuse issues, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and communication needs.
So Why Horses?
- Horses challenge clients in a non-threatening manner.
- Horses rapidly break down defence barriers.
- Horses provide immediate cause and effect situations.
- Horses captivate and hold attention.
- Horses promote change from dysfunctional patterns to successful ones.
Horses are large and powerful, which creates a natural opportunity for some to overcome fear and develop confidence. Accomplishing a task involving the horse, in spite of those fears, creates confidence and provides for wonderful metaphors when dealing with other intimidating and challenging situations in life.
Horses are very much like humans in that they are social animals. They have defined roles within the herd. They would rather be with their peers. They have distinct personalities, attitudes and moods. An approach that works with one horse may not work with another. At times they seem stubborn and defiant. They like to have fun. In other words, horses provide vast opportunities for metaphorical learning. Using metaphors, in discussion or activity, is an effective technique when working with even the most challenging individuals or groups.
Horses require work, whether in caring for them or working with them. In an era when immediate gratification and the easy way are the norm, horses require people to be engaged in physical and mental work to be successful, a valuable characteristic in all aspects of life. Most importantly, horses have the ability to mirror exactly what human body language is telling them. Many people will complain “The horse doesn’t like me” etc. But the lesson to be learned is that if they change themselves, the horses will respond differently. Horses are honest, which makes them especially powerful messengers.
By combining her knowledge of EAL with her SNHS studies of toxin reduction, nutrition, stress management, and with ADD/ADHD/ASD and related conditions and the massage therapies, Amanda is building her practice into something holistic and unique. She is also happy that she is able to use her horses in her work. Amanda has chosen further SNHS courses to facilitate further development in her practice.
The Value of Emotional Growth Therapies
Sue has learned from Amanda the value of Emotional Growth Therapies, and the role of animals as a tool for healing. We both hope to become regular visitors to each other’s county so that together we can give talks and demonstrations on this combined approach to the complementary treatment of conditions related to ADD/ADHD/ASD.
An example of the Not-so-distant learning offered by the School of Natural Health Sciences?
The Therapists’ Network Website: www.thetherapistnetwork.com
More about Sue: https://naturalhealthcourses.com/Success_Stories/Susan_Pash.htm