Pegasus: Healing Trauma
We provide the following services:
Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP)
Definition: EFP is experiential psychotherapy that includes equine(s). It may include, but is not limited to, a number of mutually respectful equine activities such as handling, grooming, riding, driving, and vaulting. EFP is facilitated with a licensed, credentialed mental health professional working with an appropriately credentialed equine professional. EFP may be facilitated by a mental health professional who is also dually credentialed as an equine professional. (definition by EFMHA, Equine Facilitated Mental Health Association).
From working with traumatized patients, I have observed over and over again the calming effect horses can have on the central nervous system. Clients show reduces levels of anxiety and depression and improved mood. Working with horses can help building and healing internal and external boundaries, which are often disturbed through traumatic experiences. Processing what happens in mind and body with an experienced therapist and relating the experience to life can make a lasting change. Most importantly, horses help keeping us in the present, slow down our racing thoughts, and engage our ventral vagus nerve (social nervous system).
It is important to understand that EFP's focus is on mental and emotional health, not on learning a riding skill. Most exercises are conducted on the ground. Pegasus is a PATH Center (http://www.pathintl.org/), which means I abide to rigorous safety rules. Even though I am a Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, EFP is NOT the same as Hippotherapy or Therapeutic Riding. If you are interested in learning to ride a horse, I cannot bill insurances, and lessons may have to be set up separately, or I will help you find a safe place. However, sometimes it is beneficial to be on the horse, so riding may or may not be part of the session.
SOMATIC EXPERIENCING® (SE):
Please click on the picture to listen to Peter Levine explain what happens in trauma and learn about SE. I am a certified SOMATIC EXPERIENCING® (SE) Practitioner. I completed the three year trauma healing training program, and incorporate the principles of SE into my other practice techniques, and find it extremely useful to track the central nervous system as we conduct therapy, and to assist my clients in their natural capability to heal. SE is a modality that incorporates meaning with tracking body sensations, affect, images, and incomplete survival responses.
From the website (http://www.traumahealing.org/about-se.php):
SOMATIC EXPERIENCING® (SE) psychobiological trauma resolution is a potent method for resolving trauma symptoms and relieving chronic stress. It is the life’s work of Dr. Peter A. Levine, resulting from his multidisciplinary study of stress physiology, psychology, ethology, biology, neuroscience, indigenous healing practices, and medical biophysics, together with over 45 years of successful clinical application. The SE approach releases traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.
The SE approach offers a framework to assess where a person is “stuck” in the fight, flight or freeze responses and provides clinical tools to resolve these fixated physiological states.
It provides effective skills appropriate to a variety of healing professions including mental health, medicine, physical and occupational therapies, bodywork, addiction treatment, first response, education, and others.
Art Therapy is defined as a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the Art Therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem ( American Art Therapy Association).
I have used Art Therapy in inpatient treatment, and have found it helpful for assessment and insight. The process of doing art can also help facilitating change at a greater level than talk alone can. Art has a tendency to lead to a root problem that can then be targeted through other interventions like Somatic Experiencing or EMDR (see below).
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR):
For an in-depth description of EMDR, please visit http://www.emdr.com/what-is-emdr/. Basically, EMDR is a treatment modality that helps a client process a disturbing memory, so that when the client is reminded of that memory (triggered) it is no longer overwhelming. For example, a soldier returning from a combat zone who has traumatic memories that involved loud noises (and usually more) caused by an explosive device, might startle in the same way when hearing a loud noise in a grocery store. His body might respond by ducking down, or he may feel as if back in combat. EMDR helps reprocess an event that was too large and too overwhelming to be processed and is "stuck" in the body as implicit memory. By desensitization through bilateral stimulation like eye movements or tapping (by the way, horses have a very rhythmic bilateral stimulation as well and engage our social nervous system), the client can reprocess the event in the present and put it in the past. Treatment time depends on the intensity and frequency of trauma. EMDR needs preparation and resource building. Since EMDR can quickly over-activate a client and possibly leading to overwhelm or dissociation, I only offer EMDR where indicated and always through the lense of Somatic Experiencing. With very traumatized clients or those with attachment issues, my horses have been fundamental in building an internal resource and trust.
Sand Play and Sand Tray Therapy
According to Dora M. Kalff, "The client is given the possibility, by means of figures and the arrangement of the sand in the area bounded by the sandbox, to set up a world corresponding to his or her inner state." GoodTherapy.org explains, "The scene created acts as a reflection of the person’s own life and allows him or her the opportunity to resolve conflicts, remove obstacles, and gain acceptance of self."
As in Play Therapy where toys are used to conduct therapys, Sand Play/Tray Therapy involves sand figures and various types of sand (beach, coarse, wet, dry, light, or dark sand). In the picture above, the adult client processed through alcoholism in the family and a highly traumatic time. Sand is great for sensory integration and lends itself to covering, uncovering, externalizing, and gaining a sense of control over a situation that was out of control. Sand Trays can be built individually or by the entire family and be used to change individual behaviors or family interaction.
Yoga and Meditation:
With all these somatic-oriented approaches, it may not come as a surprise that I am an active Yoga practitioner myself and a Yoga teacher, trained through YogaFit to teach (only very basic) Yoga exercises. My focus is not on a strenuous workout, but helping clients through learning certain movements to help control and learn more about their anxiety and/or depression. Yoga is not based in any religion, and open to any belief. It does contain a spiritual component though, and emphasizes breathing techniques that, when introduced and taught properly, can help balance the central nervous system. Some of these exercises can be highly beneficial with controlling panic attacks, mood disorders, managing stress, and improving sleep.