This training is not meant to replace the many wonderful, long-standing training and certification programs that provide a strong foundation of equine-assisted practice. Instead, EQUUSOMA™ is a continuing education certificate program for individuals who already have a foundation in this work who would like to gain more experience and skills in working with trauma from a nervous system and attachment focus. This training is also a cross-over program that supports Somatic Experiencing® and similarly-trained practitioners in partnering with equines in trauma recovery work. Similar to the Somatic Experiencing® training, this is a certificate program as opposed to a certification, with required hours of personal sessions and consultations in order to obtain the certificate of completion.
This training was originally intended to be one of the Somatic Experiencing® Trauma Institute’s (SETI) post-advanced certificate offerings for its students. The planning discussions with and proposal sent to SETI in 2016 were with this in mind. Since submitting this proposal and preparing the curriculum, SETI has started re-designing its post-advanced certificate program, which is on hold until further notice. In the meantime, SETI will be issuing a license allowing the teaching of Somatic Experiencing® skills and principles and use of its intellectual property in the context of the EQUUSOMA™ training. EQUUSOMA™ is not an equivalent to the Somatic Experiencing® training, which is a separate process. For more information about the Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner training program, visit www.traumahealing.com.
Yes, provided that you have access to horses to work with between modules and you meet the registration criteria. If you are newer to working with horses, there will be additional cross-training required to work effectively with equines on the ground. Some of this will be modeled in the EQUUSOMA™ training but the training is not a substitute for additional coaching in horsemanship. 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.
*For those attending training at Willaway Farm in Ontario, Canada, there will be an additional pre-module horsemanship experience day per module available for students who would like to increase their on the ground skills with horses.
EQUUSOMA™ does not ascribe to any one particular approach to equine-assisted therapy or learning. Instead, this training emphasizes skills and principles that can be incorporated into different approaches to equine-assisted practice to be more trauma-informed. It is less about which approach and more about how to adapt them based on a somatic, attachment and polyvagal understanding. Students who have taken EQUUSOMA™ training have come with prior backgrounds in EAGALA, FEEL, EFW, and Natural Lifemanship, among others.
Best practices in trauma-informed care promote an integrative approach to trauma recovery, 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. Similarly, being a purist in one approach to EATL may also prove challenging when working with trauma. EQUUSOMA™ provides knowledge and skills to enhance existing ways of being and doing the work.
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.
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.