Equine assisted therapy – finding new ways to cope.
There is much in the news at the moment about destigmatising the whole mental health subject. People don’t like to think they fall into the category of mental illness, therefore don’t like to explore what it really is all about, especially may not go to the GP if they are feeling anxious or depressed as sometimes these ‘labels’ go on the record and is asked to be declared at new job interests.
However, I like to explain mental health as thinking health. Think about mental arithmetic, 1 + 1 = 2, the thinking is quite automatic as we learn this when we are young. The thinking, with the brain, gives us the answer. I like to say that I see mental health as thinking health, and thinking about ‘how am I going to cope with this concern?’ Coping with difficulties is key to moving forwards and not feeling stuck.
So I help clients find new ways to cope. To be able to think through what their options are and to learn positive, useful ways to have as a large part to their functioning.
Recognising the early warning signs, or triggers is important to discover, and then to put some thought into what has worked in the past, and to be doing these helpful habits, or skills, to feel that you are managing better.
I believe there is a continuum of wellbeing, let’s say it’s a range of 1 – 100. 1 is totally mentally well, and 100 is seriously mentally ill. And the 50, right in the centre is always drawn into my model too (literally, as I usually do a pencil drawing). Where would you put yourself? Where would you put someone who is really actually well in their general mental health? What do you need to happen to improve your wellbeing? And so we would work along this theme, recognising that there is movement for us all. We can all move up and down the continuum as life gives us different situations to experience. Challenges and successes and our general way of life influence all of this.
In the way that I work with clients I also believe that our physical health and spiritual health are merging, working with our mind, giving messages and voice for each other too. My counselling approach includes a transpersonal model that integrates mind, body and soul, which is useful in empowering clients to manage their life in more meaningful, rewarding and lasting ways.
Spending time with the horses will help you discover the things that may be unresolved, may have been brushed to one side, may be deep in the unconscious, but we can help you to make better sense of what’s going on and find ways to cope. Spending time with horses can be a catalyst for change. Sometimes we have sessions with the horses and then some time in the quiet peaceful space of the shepherd’s hut, everyone is different and the work is adjusted accordingly.