Practice Requirements

EQUUSOMA® as a Paradigm

EQUUSOMA® is part of a greater paradigm shift that is advancing beyond behaviourism, consisting of knowledge, practice principles, concepts, and ways of being that apply to a variety of equine-involved professions.

This means that equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning facilitators are among our students, but that EQUUSOMA® is not limited to this category of professionals.

Many other equine professionals who do not intend to practice EAPL are also part of the growing, international EQUUSOMA® herd, including equine behaviour consultants, horse trainers, clicker trainers, riding instructors, horsemanship coaches, equine bodyworkers, veterinarians and vet technicians, adaptive/therapeutic riding instructors, animal communicators, animal death doulas, and so on.

Trauma in equines and trauma in humans can show up in any room and round pen.

Therefore, EQUUSOMA® and its blend of science, principles, and practices derived from ethology, Somatic Experiencing®, polyvagal theory, attachment theory, interspecies neurobiology, psychophysiology, trauma-informed care, trauma treatment, and other relevant areas of knowledge can be used to adapt the methods of a variety of equine-related scopes of practice.

But EQUUSOMA® is more than just a set of top-down skills and techniques. It offers a way to help transform your own nervous system and relational attunement, from the bottom up.

Scope of Practice

Similar to Somatic Experiencing®, EQUUSOMA® can be applied in different scopes of practice. Individuals must identify and commit to working within their scope of practice in order to practice ethically and with integrity in a trauma-informed way.

Training participants are also responsible for abiding by the standards of practice of their regulatory or licensing body, professional association, and municipal, state/provincial, and federal laws.

Students who do not have a clear scope of practice must book a consultation with EQUUSOMA® founder, Sarah Schlote, prior to registering for the training to discuss their situation and what parameters may apply.

Triangle and Diamond Models of Facilitation

EQUUSOMA® supports two models of service delivery.

  • Triangle model: Consists of a dually-trained facilitator working solo, client(s), and equine(s). Dually-trained refers to having competency in both working with humans and working with equines, in that person’s scope of practice.
  • Diamond model: Typically consists of a “human facilitator” (mental health clinician, learning or education professional, wellness provider, spiritual guide, medicine person or Elder, life coach, etc.), an equine professional, client(s), and equine(s). This model is typically used in cases where the “human facilitator” lacks equine experience, but can also occur in other circumstances (see below).

Variations on the diamond model include:

    • Two dually-trained facilitators working together (with or without additional volunteers as animal handlers) when offering group workshops or horsemanship clinics.
    • A dually-trained facilitator partnering with an equine professional with client(s) and equine(s) when offering group workshops, sessions, consultations or clinics.
    • An equine professional with training in equine-assisted learning partnering with a mental health professional when offering group workshops or sessions.
    • A mental health professional or dually-trained professional partnering with an equine professional to offer horsemanship instruction, equine behaviour consultation, or riding instruction (“therapist-assisted horsemanship”).

Equine Experience

Participants are expected to have familiarity and experience in handling equines in an ethical, respectful way that takes into consideration equine ethology, behaviour, psychology, and psychophysiology. Participants must also demonstrate a commitment to learning and applying methods that align with equitation science and/or Indigenous ways of knowing, and to continuing education in these areas.

Participants with less equine experience are welcome to attend EQUUSOMA® training and will be expected to co-facilitate with an equine professional or dually-trained facilitator in order to practice safely and ethically.

Similarly, equine professionals without the requisite human facilitation skills and training are expected to work with a co-facilitator with this scope of practice when offering services to clients.

Ethics and Standards

The EQUUSOMA® model was developed in alignment with the ethics and standards of the Professional Association of Equine-Facilitated Wellness, an organization that prioritizes the needs of the animals in equine interaction programs and promotes trauma-informed practice.

The EQUUSOMA® Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice are in development.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance requirements vary around the world, from country to country and even state to state (or province to province). Some insurance companies require individuals to provide a certificate of completion of training (or proof of certification) prior to offering insurance coverage. Other plans provide coverage while training participants are still mid-training (in order to allow them the opportunity to practice what they are learning).  Insurance companies typically require individuals to have proof of a clear scope of practice prior to providing insurance coverage.

In some cases, it may be possible to work under the supervision of somebody who has liability insurance (whether as a student or as a new professional), or participants may work for an organization that has insurance that covers their work.

Training participants and graduates are responsible for ensuring they are abiding by the parameters of their insurance.

*This page is current as of October 21, 2022