This training is not meant to replace the many wonderful, long-standing training and certification programs that provide a strong foundation in equine-assisted practice. Instead, EQUUSOMA™ training intensives offer continuing education for individuals who already have a grounding in equine-assisted practice 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 to learn more about how partnering with equines can support trauma recovery work. Similar to the Somatic Experiencing® training, students are required to complete personal session hours to enhance their learning and to obtain the certificate of completion. A list of approved consultants/mentors is also available for students who wish to deepen their learning of the material after the training.
Similar to the Somatic Experiencing® training, EQUUSOMA™ training intensives are not a certification. Certifications typically require some form of formal evaluation or test at the end of a training to assess skillfulness and continuing education credits to maintain certification. However, a certificate of attendance will be provided at the end of the training provided the pre-requisite log hours are completed.
Scope of Practice
Also similar to the Somatic Experiencing® training, students who attend EQUUSOMA™ training intensives are responsible for identifying what material from the training they can apply in their scope of practice. Not all material taught in the training will be possible for every student to apply in the context of their work.
EQUUSOMA™ training intensives do not qualify anyone to call themselves a trauma therapist or Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner. Students are encouraged to 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.
Working with horses/equines in any capacity is also a scope of practice in and of itself. While some people offer equine-assisted therapy/learning sessions solo (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. Co-facilitation is not only ideal when running group programs or workshops, but also when offering 1:1 sessions, especially if you are not cross-trained in both areas. Co-facilitation allows the therapist/learning professional to focus on tracking the client's experience and the equine professional to track the horse's experience.
Participating in the EQUUSOMA™ training with your co-facilitator 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.
Standards of Practice
There is no one standard worldwide for equine-assisted interventions. There are many approaches to EAPL (like with "regular" therapy), and each one is different in terms of the number of hours of training provided, whether it is a training or a certification, the types of activities done, the role of the horse, etc. Some trainings "certify" people after only a few days; other trainings are multiple modules long and have other requirements to complete. EQUUSOMA™ training intensives are intended to provide a good grounding in how to do equine-assisted practice in a Somatic Experiencing-informed way. Like with any training, each individual student will have a different level of confidence and readiness to go out and apply the material in the scope of their work following the training. Further training and education is always encouraged to develop mastery in any particular area of specialization.
Consulting with EQUUSOMA™-approved professionals who have experience in Somatic Experiencing® and 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.
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, absolutely. However, if you intend to begin offering equine-assisted sessions, further training and experience in 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-faciliate sessions with you as you grow your equine experience is also encouraged. 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.
*For those attending training at Willaway Farm in Ontario, Canada, there will be group horsemanship instruction available for students who would like to increase their on the ground skills with horses the day before the training.
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.