Partnering with Horses to Train Mental Health Professionals
Written by internationally renowned equine-assisted mental health professionals, this edited collection teaches counselors how to design and implement equine-assisted mental health interventions for different populations and various challenges. Supported by ethical considerations and theoretical frameworks, chapters cover common issues including depression, anxiety, grief, ADHD, autism, eating disorders, substance abuse, self-esteem, social skills and communication, couples and family work, and professional development. Each chapter provides practical tips for implementing treatment strategies, case studies with transcript analyses, and sample session notes. This book will appeal to both the expert equine-assisted mental health counselor and the seasoned counselor who is open to partnering with an equine practitioner to help their clients in new and innovative ways.
Students enrolled in university-based mental health training programs typically spend 2–3 years immersed in didactic coursework focused on developing their understanding of a range of clinical theories and models, building competence in applying techniques specific to those models, and insuring that they understand the legal and ethical codes that guide the profession. While clearly this is the foundation for training informed, thoughtful, and ethical practitioners, a missing link in many training programs is attention to the self-of-the-therapist. A therapist’s awareness of self—socially, emotionally, interpersonally—and of what he or she brings to each therapeutic encounter is critical to the process of sound ethical practice. As Timm and Blow (1999) observe, each of us is informed, often outside our own awareness, by significant events and life experiences that have contributed to our development as individuals. These experiences may inform our responses—in more and less positive ways—when our clients describe similar moments in their lives. Timm and Blow (1999) advocate for doing self-of-the-therapist work that explores both the restraints and resources that arise out of a therapist’s life experiences. Additionally, Simon (2006) has proposed that family therapy training, specifically, be guided by a four-stage process that begins with an exploration of the trainees’ personal worldview and ends with the therapists’ developing nuanced skill in a model that most closely aligns with their personal understanding of the human condition. Within the first stage, trainees would be asked to explore their own life decisions, with the goal of understanding the worldview that informed those decisions and life structures (including political, social, spiritual, and personal beliefs).