Student FAQs

Prospective Students

Like the Somatic Experiencing® training process offered through Somatic Experiencing® International, EQUUSOMA® offers a certificate of completion. Neither are a certification. This is in keeping with Canadian and international standards that call for a clear separation between those offering training and those offering certification. Certification should not be provided by trainers or training organizations themselves, but by an independent professional association, in order to avoid conflicts of interest and also to set a higher bar around what constitutes a "certification": ISO/IEC 17024 - Conformity Assessment, General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons Because this standard is not consistently applied in the field of equine-assisted interventions or horsemanship, there is an astounding amount of variety in the length, quality, and calibre of "certifications" that are available, which cheapens the value of what a certification should be about. As a result, there are certifications that claim to qualify someone to perform a particular role after only a few days, which is problematic on a number of levels. Conversely, there are certificate programs that are far more lengthy, thorough, and of higher quality than some certifications. The word "certification" is currently not a guarantee of effectiveness, reputability, or validity - it's a bit of a free for all and the term has become less meaningful as a result. Unfortunately, people who want to fast track their way into a career (without doing the work involved to practice with integrity, ethically, and competently) can do so because of the lack of consistency around what constitutes a certification. Just because someone can do this doesn't mean that they should. A third party certification involves an application process, an assessment of competence through formal evaluation methods, a decision as to whether an individual is certified or certifiable, and requirements for maintaining certification or re-certification. A certification also involves guidelines around the use of the certificate, logo, trademark, and related designation, if applicable. Training is not listed in the ISO/IEC standard of what constitutes a certification - it is a separate process. Whether or not a training leads to a "certification" is not an indicator of said training's value, quality, practical application, effectiveness, or worth in preparing someone for a particular role. For more about this issue, please read the following article by Sue McIntosh, "The Certification Conundrum".
The designation of Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner (SEP) through Somatic Experiencing® International is conferred after completing the requisite number of training modules, personal sessions and consultations. This is an independent process that is not connected to the EQUUSOMA® training. However, EQUUSOMA® is modelled on this process since it integrates Somatic Experiencing®. After completing the required training modules, personal sessions, consultations, and other requirements, students can be eligible to call themselves an EQUUSOMA® Practitioner (ESP).

Scope of Practice

The EQUUSOMA® training offerings do not qualify anyone to call themselves a trauma therapist, psychotherapist, Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner, equine behaviour specialist, horse trainer, and so on. Students and professionals should check with their provincial/state and federal governing bodies and laws to ensure they are complying with standards of practice and legislation governing their profession. Professionals are expected to incorporate EQUUSOMA® in their work in accordance with their scope of practice. For instance, EQUUSOMA® will look different when used by a mental health professional, a life coach, a horse trainer, a horse behaviour consultant, or a riding instructor. People who have not yet obtained a professional scope of practice and are currently students in an educational program that will provide them with a clear scope of practice are welcome to attend EQUUSOMA® trainings and apply the material to the degree that is possible given their student status, provided that they have the approval and support of a supervisor or seek consultation to do so safely and ethically.

Limits of Competence

Similar to the Somatic Experiencing® training, people who attend EQUUSOMA® training are responsible for identifying what material they can apply in their scope of practice. Not all material taught in the training will be possible for everyone to apply in the context of their work. Adapting the material based on your scope and context may be required. Everyone who takes EQUUSOMA® training will have a different level of skill, confidence, and integration of the material by the end of the program. This is because everyone has a different nervous system capacity, personality, history of risk and resiliency factors, and current circumstances that influence their learning process.  Completing the EQUUSOMA® training and obtaining the ESP designation is not a guarantee of a particular level of competence; further consultation, personal sessions, and learning may be required to support further integration of the material into one's way of being and doing. Continuing education and lifelong learning is normal and encouraged in helping- and equine-related professions to develop mastery in any particular area of specialty.

Cross-Training and Co-Facilitation

Working with people and equines together in any capacity is also a scope of practice in and of itself. While some professionals offer services by themselves (as a result of having sufficient cross-training and experience in both therapy/experiential learning and in horsemanship/equine science), others work in a co-facilitation team. EQUUSOMA® supports both models of practice. There are benefits and disadvantages to each one, which are explored further in the training. Participating in EQUUSOMA® training with your co-facilitator (if you work in a team model) can support the integration of the material in your work together. A discount of 10% on the cost of each person's tuition is offered to participants who register as a co-facilitation team.

Consultations

Consulting with EQUUSOMA®-approved professionals who have experience in Somatic Experiencing® and horsemanship / equine behaviourism / equine-assisted practice is encouraged to deepen integration of the material and support learning. Growing one's scope of practice in any area takes time and commitment.
EQUUSOMA® trainings are offered with the gracious permission and licensing approval of Somatic Experiencing® International (SEI). This license allows the teaching of Somatic Experiencing® skills and principles and use of its intellectual property and trademark in the context of the EQUUSOMA® training. EQUUSOMA® is not an equivalent to the Somatic Experiencing® training, which are separate processes. EQUUSOMA® training was originally intended to be one of SEI's post-advanced certificate offerings for its students. The planning discussions with and proposal sent to SEI in 2016 were developed with this in mind. Since submitting this proposal and preparing the curriculum, SEI has started re-designing its post-advanced certificate program, which is on hold until further notice. For more information about the Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner training program, visit www.traumahealing.com
Yes, absolutely. However, if you intend to begin offering services in a particular scope of practice (e.g., psychotherapy, life coaching, counselling, energy work, horse training, equine behaviour consultation, and so on), further training and experience in equine psychology, behaviour, and horsemanship is required to practice safely and effectively if this is not currently part of your skill set. Partnering with an equine professional who can co-facilitate sessions with you as you grow your equine experience is also required until your scope of practice has expanded. Co-facilitation is also typically required when offering group programs to ensure enough safety, containment, and monitoring is available for all human and equine participants. Bear in mind that there are as many approaches to horsemanship as there are to therapy, and not all horsemanship methods take the horse’s biology, personality, needs, and psychology into consideration. Signing up for the EQUUSOMA® training intensive with your intended co-facilitator is a great way to ensure you are on the same page and speaking the same language as you start working together. Also please note that not having a horse to work with may delay your progression through the training program, as a certain number of case consultations are required to be completed in the certificate program.
EQUUSOMA® is about fostering horse-human trauma recovery in a wide variety of scopes of practice: from equine-facilitated psychotherapy and learning, to adaptive or therapeutic riding, to horse training, to equine behaviour consultation, to equine health practitioners.

Principles and Ethics

EQUUSOMA® was developed in alignment with the principles and code of ethics of the Professional Association for Equine-Facilitated Wellness (PRO-EFW), which prioritizes the well-being of the horse in equine interaction programs and promotes trauma-informed practice.

Broad Applicability

EQUUSOMA® does not promote any one particular approach. Instead, this training emphasizes skills and principles from a number of sources that can be incorporated into different approaches and horse-human interaction professions to be more trauma-informed. It is less about which approach and more about how to adapt them and your scope of practice based on an understanding of somatics, attachment and related neuroscience.

Participant Backgrounds

STREAM 1 participants have come with prior backgrounds in EAGALA, FEEL, EFW, LEAP, HERD, Gestalt Equine Psychotherapy, Eponaquest, PATH International, EATA, and Natural Lifemanship, among others. STREAM 2 participants have backgrounds in various models of horse training (natural horsemanship, clicker training, liberty work), equine behaviour consultation based on learning theory and equestrian science, equine bodywork, equestrian disciplines, and other horse-focused professions. STREAM 3 participants consist of Somatic Experiencing® Practitioners and students in the SE training program. At times, participants in this stream may include people who have completed training in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Somatic Transformation, Somatic Resilience and Regulation, and other models that share a history, theory base, or evolved out of Somatic Experiencing. STREAM 4 participants are other health, helping, and healing professionals who do not have backgrounds in either of the first three streams who are interested in developing a new scope of practice.

Integrative Toolkits

Best practices in trauma-informed care promote an integrative approach, involving different modalities and approaches that can be combined to best meet complex needs. It is not recommended to be a “one-trick pony” in the field of trauma recovery, regardless of species. EQUUSOMA® provides knowledge and skills to enhance existing ways of being and doing the work.
This question pertains mainly to the inclusion of equines in equine-assisted/facilitated psychotherapy and learning. This answer focuses specifically on that industry: EQUUSOMA® holds the perspective that equine-assisted interventions should at minimum do no harm and at best do good – for the animals and the humans participating in the experience. Healing and growth should not occur for one at the expense of the other. EQUUSOMA® promotes principles of trauma-informed care and an understanding of mammalian nervous systems and mammalian attachment needs through a trauma lens, which are applied to all participating in the program – whether two- or four-legged. In EQUUSOMA®, the horse is not a tool. The horse is also not a magic unicorn or a mirror. And the horse is certainly not a co-therapist. The horse is a horse - an equal participant in the relational process, with the right to choose, to voice an opinion, to say no, and to walk away. Like us, horses, mules, or donkeys are sentient beings with a nervous system, history, personality, and attachment patterns, and they offer us the potential for relationships. And relationships are where we get to learn about ourselves and others, experience co-regulation and develop self-regulation, explore our relational patterns, management strategies, and nervous system survival responses, as well as repair attachment ruptures and renegotiate trauma.

1. Somatic Experiencing®

Somatic Experiencing® is a registered trademark of the Foundation for Human Enrichment (administered through Somatic Experiencing® International), in the US, Canada, and other countries. Individuals who are in the process of completing (or who have completed) the EQUUSOMA® training program may not call themselves Somatic Experiencing® Practitioners or claim that they are trained in or offering Somatic Experiencing® unless they have done that training as well. The two processes are separate. It is, however, possible to explain that EQUUSOMA® itself is an approach that is grounded in Somatic Experiencing®. SEI has advised that terms like "Equine-Assisted Somatic Experiencing®" constitute trademark infringement and are not permitted. Individuals who are not trained in EQUUSOMA® but have taken or completed Somatic Experiencing® training and have the requisite additional scopes of practice could describe their work as "Somatic Experiencing® and equine-assisted psychotherapy" or "Somatic Experiencing® with horses" or "Somatic Experiencing®-based horsemanship", and so on.

2. EQUUSOMA®

EQUUSOMA® is a registered trademark of the Sarah Schlote and the Schlote Psychotherapy Professional Corporation in Canada, the USA, the EU, and Australia. Individuals who are in the process of completing (or have completed) the Somatic Experiencing® training program may not call themselves EQUUSOMA® Practitioners or claim that they are trained in or offering EQUUSOMA® unless they have done that training as well. The two processes are separate. Individuals who are trained in Somatic Experiencing® and offer equine-assisted interventions of various kinds may not call their work EQUUSOMA® unless they have undertaken the EQUUSOMA® training specifically. An individual who has not taken EQUUSOMA® training but has read about the model and tries to incorporate its principles into their work may indicate that they use certain skills and frameworks inspired by EQUUSOMA®, but not claim to be "trained" in the method or offering EQUUSOMA® sessions.

3. Licensing

Completing EQUUSOMA® training does not allow people to provide training in EQUUSOMA® to others or to use EQUUSOMA® training materials in developing their own training, as this would constitute both trademark and copyright infringement.  A formal faculty train the trainer process must be completed in order to obtain a license to teach EQUUSOMA® Individuals who have completed EQUUSOMA® training, faculty, faculty in training, and approved providers may be granted a revocable license to use the methods and materials in the context of their direct client work (sessions, lessons, group workshops, private intensives, etc.), with proper citation. Individuals who wish to provide an introductory presentation about EQUUSOMA® to inform others about the model and how they incorporate it in their work must submit a request to info@equusoma.com to obtain approval of their presentation materials and licensing approval at least 1 month prior to the date of the presentation. A licensing fee applies to those wishing to provide such presentations. The Schlote Psychotherapy Professional Corporation reserves the right to approve or deny any application for a license, and that these these licenses are revocable at the sole and unfettered discretion of Sarah Schlote and the Schlote Psychotherapy Professional Corporation.
The total cost of the training will vary depending on a number of factors:
  • Whether you are attending modules online (Level 1) or in person (Level 2)
  • Whether or not you register independently at the full rate or with a co-facilitator or a group at a discounted rate;
  • Whether the training is held in Canada (provincial tax applies) or internationally (the cost of travel and accommodations for the facilitation team needs to be considered, which are unpredictable especially in a COVID-19 pandemic world)
  • Your payment method and any associated fees;
  • The hourly rates of the various personal session and consultation providers you hire and whether or not they need to charge tax (vary by provider);
  • The total number of personal sessions and consultations each student completes; and
  • The local exchange rate at the time of calculation.
As such, it is impossible to provide a clear estimate of the total costs of investing in the program, given the number of factors involved. Please do not email us requesting specific quotes for your specific situation, as there are too many variables and students are responsible for sorting out pricing based on their context.
EQUUSOMA® trainings are not currently pre-approved with any American accreditation organization for Continuing Education (CE) credits/units. We are working towards meeting the requirements of these accrediting bodies so that we can eventually apply for approval. We have many past and current American students who have taken our trainings in spite of where we are at in our development. Students who attend EQUUSOMA® trainings obtain a certificate of attendance for participating in each of our online and live classes. These certificates indicate the number of hours of continuing education that they completed per class, for their own tracking. Canadian students are usually able to submit these certificates of attendance along with a description of the course to their professional association or regulatory body for consideration for approval (such as during the renewal of their registration or membership, when a tally of professional development hours is required).
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to pivot their offerings to adjust to this new global reality, which involves delays in planning and scheduling upcoming training events. Each faculty member, training assistant and student faces different COVID restrictions based on where they live, which makes coordinating trainings a challenge. Some people cannot travel at all, while others are facing unpaid 2-week quarantine periods on arrival before they can take part in a training, followed by another unpaid 2-week quarantine period when they return home. In some cases, people will have to stay in designated quarantine hotels at their own expense, and in other cases (especially if crossing international borders) there is a lengthy application process to register for these quarantine hotels. And other places have very relaxed protocols in place. It is quite confusing and frustrating. While some of our colleagues who teach other approaches have opted to set dates and then change the dates based on COVID conditions as they arise, we have been reluctant to do so because rescheduling training dates to accommodate faculty, assisting teams and students, and processing refunds, are time consuming and complex processes. We have opted to be more conservative in our approach, supporting our existing students to complete their requirements as best as possible, and waiting to see how things shift as vaccines are rolled out. We appreciate your patience as we wait together to see how global conditions improve over the coming months.
There is overlap in content between the two offerings. But the main distinction is as follows: EQUUSOMA® Horse-Human Trauma Recovery is a continuing education training program for professionals working in the horse-human context. This offering is taught by Sarah Schlote in collaboration with faculty-in-training and training assistants. Equuscience is a monthly webinar series geared specifically towards horse owners, equestrians, or the general public. This offering is co-taught by Dr. Steve Peters, neuroscientist and co-author of Evidence-Based Horsemanship. Some horse professionals do register for Equuscience as a taster prior to registering for EQUUSOMA®, though this is not required.
The training modules must be completed in the order listed on the website. For instance, for Level 1 online, this means:
  1. Attending EQUUSOMA® Fundamentals I prior to
  2. Attending Foundations of Somatic Experiencing® (for students lacking a background in Somatic Experiencing®), prior to
  3. Attending EQUUSOMA® Fundamentals II.
Students cannot register for Foundations of Somatic Experiencing® without having taken EQUUSOMA® Fundamentals I first.

Current Students (coming soon)