The EQUUSOMA® training would not be the same without its international team of training assistants. Approved training assistants have undergone a background review and must have completed the rigorous Somatic Experiencing® training (or a combination of exposure to SE™ and other related approaches) along with a number of years in an equine-related context. In many cases, assistants also come with training or certification in other approaches.
The assisting teams will be different with each training cohort, based on availability and location. In some cases, assistants are approved who do not meet all the criteria when there are not enough assistants available. Assistants with less experience (shadow assistants) are paired with assistants with more experience wherever possible.
Assistants volunteer and donate their time and energy to support training participant learning, given the value they place on the learning and the rewards inherent in giving back in the form of shaping a new cohort of students and making a difference for equines.
Role of Assistants
The role of the training assistants is to help support the faculty and students as they move through the training program. Assistants lend their support through their presence, how they hold space (or the “container”) for the group, their attention and intentionality, and their direct support during the Home Herds, breakout group discussions, and breakout practice rounds.
The Home Herds are part of every Level 1 online training module. On days 2-5 of each module, students meet in assigned groups with a dedicated training assistant to touch base and debrief anything that is coming up. The Home Herds are generally the same each day, to support a greater sense of consistency and connection.
Breakout groups can take place on any day of any of the Level 1 online modules or during the Level 2 practical intensives in person. Breakout groups are used to support the student experience of coming into relationship, navigating what comes up somatically and relationally when we form a “herd”, and to discuss the material and its application in your scope of practice. Assistants are present during these groups to help support the process and conversation, through the use of Somatic Experiencing® and relational inquiry.
Breakout Practice Rounds
Breakout practice rounds start during the Level 1 Foundations of Somatic Experiencing® online module, and continue throughout the rest of the program (online and during Level 2+ in person). The practice rounds are an opportunity for students to experience and muck around with the material (in the practitioner role) with a student (in the lender role, who “lends” their nervous system to the practitioner for the practice). Depending on the number of students, there may be one or more observers present. The observer role is active and focused on tracking their own experience and response to the practice round, as well as what the practitioner tried out and the response in the lender. The observer’s role is not to critique but rather express curiosity about choice points and what unfolded.
During Level 2 in person, these practice rounds include equines to varying degrees. Practice rounds in person may involve two students in the role of practitioner during a practice round, one whose attention is primarily on tracking the nervous system and relational experience of the human lender, and one whose attention is primarily on tracking the nervous system and relational experience of the equine(s). The role is divided to reduce the demand on students while they are learning, even if in person the students work solo without a co-facilitator.
Whether online or in person, the role of the assistants for the practice rounds is collaborative. Assistants are instructed to slide in to support those in the practitioner role by asking questions about what the practitioner is curious about, what their intention is with asking a particular question, what the practitioner is noticing about the human lender and equine(s), what choice points might be showing up, and what might be happening for the practitioner themselves. If a practitioner appears to be struggling, an assistant may slide in and pause the practice, to allow time for the practitioner to track their own nervous system until they are feeling more settled before continuing. Similarly, the assistant may also invite a pause depending on what is coming up for the equine(s) or lender. The practitioner or lender may also call a time out at any time to request the assistant’s support.
*This page is current as of October 21, 2022