EQUUSOMA® as a Paradigm
EQUUSOMA® is not equine-assisted psychotherapy or learning, per se.
It is a paradigm shift, consisting of knowledge, practice principles, concepts, and ways of being that apply to any equine-involved profession. This means that equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning professionals are among our students, but that EQUUSOMA® is not limited to them.
Many other equine professionals who do not intend to practice EAPL take EQUUSOMA® training, including equine behaviour consultants, horse trainers, riding instructors, equine bodyworkers, veterinarians and vet technicians, adaptive/therapeutic riding instructors, and so on.
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 both models of facilitating commonly found in animal-assisted interventions. These models can also be applied to other equine professions as well beyond simply equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning.
- 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 horses.
- 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”).
Participants are expected to have familiarity and experience in handling horses 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.
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 are responsible for ensuring they are abiding by the parameters of their insurance.