In Equines in Therapy & Learning Programs Level 3 we focus on practicing and applying the theories and knowledge learned in Level 1 and Level 2. We explore and focus on core concepts in mindfulness, experiential learning, and the practical aspects of structuring, planning, executing and evaluating sessions, as well as on the teamwork and the different team members responsibilities. We also go through other frameworks and resources that needs to be in place, including the importance to know about state or/and regional regulations, as well as establishing team ethics and other aspects of “behind session work”.
This means Level 3 has fewer theoretical lectures compared to the first two levels and focuses more on practical approaches of designing and practicing sessions based on learned theory. Participants will combine the knowledge from Levels 1 and 2, in addition to gained experiences, to develop sessions that have therapeutic value to clients while still considering equine welfare and utilizing all aspects of knowledge related to equine-human interactions. Participants are encouraged to explore different approaches to sessions based on available resources such as horses, facilities, partners, and nature in order to create sessions that are targeted to the needs of the client(s). We will explore how each facility can create a variety of opportunities to incorporate nature, movement, mindfulness, self-exploration, social atmospheres, and rhythm in conjunction with the individual horses to create different therapeutic (or supporting, educational or personal growth) experiences for clients.
Part of the training will involve the development of flowcharts (decision trees) and explain the decision-making process to developing and structuring tailored EAP/L sessions that cater to the client and horse(s) using ethology, behavior, cognition, neurobiology, physiology, movement, psychology, and the theoretical concepts of the previous levels. The flow charts presented are generic and are meant as a foundation that practitioners can change based on the needs and backgrounds of clients and horses (and facility environments that are available). Participants will work together (we encourage teams to take the training together), to practice developing sessions using the horses at the host venue and explore alternative options within the environment.
Participants will also be asked to develop sessions based on their own venue(s) and horses and discuss these with the group to explore additional alternatives. This last exercise will involve a single hypothetical client with goals and potential diagnosis/problems. It is meant to show that, even if the same client were to show up at each venue, the process may differ greatly based on available horses, facility, and environment even with the same theoretical foundations.
Mindfulness in theory and practice:
• Self-awareness for team members and team awareness
• Environmental Awareness
• Role of nature
• Role of movement and rhythm
• Practical use of mindfulness in any session
• Mindfulness as a focus of therapeutic experiences vs learning experiences
• Trauma-informed/sensitive mindfulness vs trauma-focused mindfulness
• Mindfulness in phase 1 work in trauma work (stabilization, grounding, and preparing)
• Facilitating self-awareness in clients
• Research in mindfulness in EAAT/L and other programs
Experiential learning in theory and practice:
• Definition and use of experiential learning in education, therapy, coaching and supportive work
• Experiential learning in EiT/L levels
• How to utilize this concept with ourselves
• How this applies to clients
• How this applies to horses, equine psychology, equine welfare, and the equine-human experience
Learning to structure sessions:
• Develop full sessions from start to finish
• Different uses and options for structuring things – practice using the theory and concepts as tools and apply them to different circumstances (using creativity and imagination in addition to ethograms and other behavioral notification systems)
• Example Flowchart/Decision tree
• Practice in groups
• Develop different options for sessions in groups through discussions
o Show elements of what was learned and how it was applied (practical use of psychology, cognitive science, ethograms, equine behavior, equine-human interaction, neurobiology, movement, theoretical approaches, etc).
o Get feedback from facilitators and group about strengths and weaknesses and potential alternative approaches
• How do train and grow your team
• Who does what in your team (including the horses?)
• Who is responsible for what?
• Theory around teamwork
Practical approaches – general and individualized:
• Rules and regulations
• Record keeping and documentation
• Possible research protocols