Episode 151 Incorporating Horses Into Mental Health & Wellbeing Experiences: Interview with Amanda Graham

Nov 1, 2023

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What is Equine Therapy? How can animals play a role in promoting emotional, psychological, and social well-being?

MEET Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, and her life journey has not been straight or traditional.  Amanda founded Unbridled Way Forward in January 2020, leaving an 8-year position as an executive at Alliance Health, and returning to her mission of providing mental health and well-being services incorporating horses.  

She has been incorporating horses into her work for more than 20 years, first in Colorado where she was director of a nonprofit mental health center, and more recently here in Rougemont, North Carolina. She is also a meditation teacher and offers a variety of online and in-person options for organizations and individuals.

Find out more at Unbridled Way Forward and connect with Amanda on  Instagram, Facebook 

Wayfinding through Grief in the Company of Horses Sun, Sep 24 | Unbridled Way Farm

Herd Meditation At The Farm Sun, Nov. 05 | Unbridled Farm Way


  • What is equine therapy? 4:14
  • How to integrate horses into meditation 12:53
  • What are the benefits of equine therapy? 26:29

What Is Equine Therapy?

  • What are the different equine therapies available?
  • The importance of understanding your client’s needs when integrating horses into therapy
  • A look at different ways to use horses in therapy
  • Why are horses a unique animal for therapy?

How To Integrate Horses Into Meditation

  • What is “Herd Meditation?”
  • The benefits of eco-wellness
  • Treating clients who have anxiety with horses
  • The importance of letting your clients know what to expect

What Are The Benefits Of Equine Therapy?

  • How to use client interaction with horses to dig deeper
  • Finding creativity when working with horses
  • Having a trauma-informed approach for clients as well as the animals

Connect With Me

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Join the private Facebook group

Sign up for my free email course: www.holisticcounselingpodcast.com

The Art of Breath: How to Integrate Breathwork Techniques for Effective Therapy Sessions with Chris McDonald, LCMHCS

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Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:

Find out more at Unbridled Way Forward and connect with Amanda on  Instagram, Facebook 

Arenas for Change – ARCH

Horses for Mental Health



Chris McDonald: Today's episode, we're discussing the power of incorporating horses into psychotherapy, where the healing power of horses meets the human soul. Horses are incredible mirrors of our emotions, our intentions, and our true selves. They have an uncanny ability to be fully in the present moment and guide us on our paths to self discovery and healing.

Join us as we uncover the secrets of this remarkable therapeutic approach, explore stories of transformation, and understand how the gentle giants of the equine world are helping people overcome challenges you might never have imagined. So saddle up! And get ready for an episode that will remind you of the profound connections that can exist between humans and animals.

Join us on the Holistic Counseling podcast today for a therapeutic ride like no other. This is Holistic Counseling, the podcast for mental health professionals. Therapists who want to deepen their knowledge of holistic modalities and build their practice with confidence. I'm your host, Chris McDonald, licensed therapist.

I am so glad you're here for the journey.

Welcome to today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. Today we're embarking on a truly unique journey into the world of healing and self-discovery. If you've ever marveled at the profound connections that can be forged between humans and animals, you're in for a treat. Today's episode is all about integrating horses into a transformative approach that harnesses the power of the majestic horse to help individuals overcome emotional and psychological challenges.

Using horses in therapy offers a holistic practice that's gaining momentum and recognition for its remarkable results. We're here today to bring you behind the scenes and unveil the stories behind this incredible therapy. In this episode, we explore how these magnificent creatures become catalysts for healing and personal growth and how they reflect our emotions back to us without judgment.

This episode is bound to leave you with a newfound appreciation for the healing power of horses. Joining us on this journey today is Amanda Graham. She will guide us through the principles, methods, and the potential of integrating horses into therapy. Amanda is a licensed therapist who's been incorporating horses into her work for more than 20 years.

Welcome to the Holistic Counseling Podcast, Amanda.

Amanda Graham: Thank you, Chris. Thank you so much for having me on. I'm super excited to talk with you today.

Chris McDonald: So let's start with what inspired you to start working with horses as a therapeutic tool?

Amanda Graham: Well, it's interesting. I've been interested in horses like I think a lot of little girls are and have been over the years.

And so I've always had kind of a connection with horses. Always had a connection with animals in general. And when I became a counselor, it was a second career in my life. And when I became a counselor, I actually moved to Colorado and of course, horses were everywhere there. And in the midst of that, I read about an organization that was training people to incorporate horses into therapy.

And the organization was EGALA. It was founded in 1999 and this was 2003. And you know, it just really resonated for me. I thought this is perfect. You know, this is perfect. I'm a new counselor. I'm interested in incorporating all the things around me, nature, horses, animals, and this just seemed like a natural fit.

And so I got super excited about it. I went to the training in Utah and the rest just kind of went on from there, just took it from there. So

Chris McDonald: how long have you been working with horses and therapy?

Amanda Graham: Well, 2003 was my first training. So just at 20 years.

Chris McDonald: So it sounds like you found your calling with that

Amanda Graham: too.

Yeah. Very fortunate. Very fortunate. You know, I think there have been a lot of people probably incorporating horses. without trainings and without certifications before that, but maybe not. It just seemed like in the late 1990s, this idea really launched. And of course, now there are many, many different ways people incorporate horses, lots of certifications and so forth, but yeah,

Chris McDonald: that's great.

Yeah. So I was confused researching this because there's different terms for equine therapy. So I saw equine therapy, equine assisted therapy. Horse therapy. Can you help clear this up? What are the differences?

Amanda Graham: Well, you know, you are so on the money in terms of words. It's so confusing even among experts that there was actually a group of professionals about 4 or 5 years ago that were gathered to get national.

Professionals in the field in the industry to come together and decide on some come to an agreement about what we call what. And so there's actually a paper that's been written by this group of international professionals, which I'm happy to share with you. That would be great. Yeah. But I think, um, essentially there are a couple of different versions.

I think what we have chosen. Is to start talking about it in terms of, uh, psychotherapy that incorporates horses or well being services that incorporates horses, because what we're offering really is a therapeutic intervention rather than sometimes when you're here equine assisted, it's like. Well, is the horse getting therapy or you are you providing therapy truly?

I've had people ask me that. So, but yes, so equine assisted psychotherapy is a generic term, but we've tried to turn the wording around to start with what the intervention is 1st, but I will tell you, there's sort of 2 basic camps. If you will not even separate camps, there's a. type of therapy that has been used probably longer, which is hippotherapy and therapeutic riding.

And that's about people with physical challenges. Sometimes people with autism, some other emotional challenges are actually put on the horse. So they ride the horse and they have volunteers who actually walk next to the horse. And the intervention is that the way the horse moves the body is that it helps benefit these people who may have some physical disabilities.

And there's been a lot of research about it. There's an organization called PATH, P A T H, and I don't remember what that stands for, but they have been around for probably 40 or 50 years. And they really were the leaders in this sort of. therapeutic riding to help people in that vein. What we are doing at Unbridled Way Forward and what has certainly grown over the last 20 years is the idea of doing work on the ground and incorporating horses into psychotherapy so that we're not riding the horses.

We are having facilitated interactions and experiences with the horses that are related to whatever the treatment plan or whatever it is that, you know, when you're working with a client, they come with some sort of goal. They come because they're stuck. They come for some reason, they're grieving, whatever that is.

And so we create interventions with the horses and experiences with the horses that relate to that to help them move forward.

Chris McDonald: I know you and I had met before. our interview today. And I appreciate you sharing the differences because I think most people, they think of horses and therapy, they think of riding.

So can you help our listeners understand what are some of these interventions like that you use with horses?

Amanda Graham: That's a great question. Again, many people do it many different ways. I think the ways that mindfulness.

And maybe I should take a moment, if it's okay, to talk about why horses. Yes, go ahead. That would probably lead into that, if we can. Horses are, by nature, they're very big, obviously, they're like 1, 200 pounds. But they are, by nature, very mindful. Like many animals, they live in the moment. They don't have the big prefrontal cortex that we have that keeps them thinking and planning and worrying.

Thank you for getting in that thinking loop, but they're in the moment. And so being in their presence can physically help us. Settle. So that's first and foremost, is that they have this ability to help because they are so big and their energy force, their heart rate, all of that is so much bigger and reaches out to us in an energy field that it actually helps us to lower our own breathing, lower our own blood pressure and that sort of thing.

So there's that piece. But they're also unlike us. They're prey animals, you know, We think of dogs and dogs are fabulous. I love dogs. I have a wonderful therapy dog, but they're predators. They're like us. And so horses being prey animals, they tend to respond to things from a safety first perspective. So they are constantly.

assessing, looking, observing us when we walk into the pasture or come towards the fence, because for them, they want to make sure they're safe. And if they don't feel safe, they have a great flight response that will then take them away from whatever it is that's scaring them. But the fact that they're prey animals gives them an ability to really read us verbals that we're many of us totally unaware of.

And I think that's where the interactions really come in, is that when we do an intervention or do an activity or experience with the horses, the horse is not a tool. The horse is actually a team member. So the horse actually, yeah, yeah. I mean, we can call them tools and that's perfectly fine. But in terms of how we really view it, the horses bring a lot.

To the session, for example, so coming back to your question, um, what might that look like? Or what might an intervention look like? You know, I've had I work with people on a variety of topics, but many times they come when they're feeling stuck, you know, they just they feel stuck in their lives. They're not sure which way to go.

And so we spend some time initially just sort of. being in the space outside in nature with the horses. The horses are in the pasture. And so I might invite them to take a few moments at the fence with me to just do a few deep breaths to kind of ground ourselves. And then we would just go out to the pasture.

The horses are free, so we're not impending their movement at all. So they have an opportunity to approach us or not approach us. They're very curious. They're very curious. And what happens is the client is also invited to approach or not approach or just observe. And what happens very quickly is that stories begin to emerge about, does the horse like me?

Does the horse not like me? Many of the things that we struggle with in our lives are stories that we've made up. You know, we have these story loops. And so the horse, it's about the relationship with the horses. So it's about how to develop this relationship with this horse. And what can I learn about myself and how I might be interacting in my other parts of my life outside of the arena that are influenced by what I learned from this horse relationship?

So I'll take a pause there. Is that making some sense? Yes, it does. But yeah, I mean, we've had so many stories of people, you know, people coming into the pasture, not really knowing what brought them there, except that they knew they were feeling sad. They knew they were feeling stuck. And just after a few sessions of inviting them into the space, and the invitation can be as simple, Chris, as, so you've come here to find your way out of this stuck place.

You've come here because you've been feeling tearful. You've been feeling, you know, alone. What we'd invite you to do is just take some time out here in the pasture with the horses and explore what resources might be out here for you. Think about this space as your life. Think about this space as your space.

And think about by paying attention and allowing the horses to step into my story, into my life, what can I learn about what might be arising in my life? So, it can be very general like that, or it can be something very specific. What I'd like, I might say something like, well, what I'd invite you to do is to move the horse from this part of the pasture to that part of the pasture, or I would invite you to.

Brush the horse, just take about 10 minutes and just brush the horse, feel the horse, maybe take some breaths with the horse. And then we process what comes up as that's done. So part of it is the intervention, part of it is what the client is doing. And then the other part is the facilitation. So having facilitators be able to ask the right questions and help the person make the connections between what's happening in the pasture.

With what's happening in their lives. It's kind of that. It's

Chris McDonald: kind of like projection in a way to is. Yeah,

Amanda Graham: exactly. And we actually sometimes use projective techniques. We have some beautiful cards that are made up of horses that were taken photographs that were taken out wild mustangs in Utah. And we sometimes use the cards if it's a rainy day.

If the person's not feeling like being out with the horses, we can work with the cards. It's about look at these cards and where do you find yourself today? you know, where do you find yourself today? And where would you like to be at at the end of this session? Something as simple as that can bring up a great conversation.

Yeah. That's so

Chris McDonald: interesting to think about. And I know you mentioned meditation. So how would meditation play with horses and how would that come into play? We

Amanda Graham: actually offer a meditate, a herd meditation is what we call it once a month. Yeah. And it's been so successful. It's been one of the people are just, we keep it very small, but people come back because it's just such a unique experience.

But what we do essentially is in that case, we're doing a guided meditation. We keep it a very small group and we do some meditation and some collaboration and connection and conversation outside of the pasture. And then I lead a guided meditation. And then we in silence, we'll go and spend about a half an hour.

In the pasture with the horses, with everyone moving silently on their own, and it's a chance for them to just be, you know, it's so rare that we are able to just be. And again, as soon as people come into the pasture, their stories arrive, you know, sometimes the horse is like, man, that horse reminds me so much of my husband when he does that.

Or, you know, this brought up my loss of my grandmother who died a couple of months ago. I mean, we just don't know what's percolating below. But having this time in quiet nature in a beautiful space and being in the presence of horses and silence and being held, you know, I say we because I oftentimes work with a co facilitator.

Sometimes I work alone, but in a large group like that, I would use a co facilitator and being able to be held in that space. With the horses with other people, but separate, it's a very, very powerful experience. And then at the end, we allow people to share a little bit if they want to about what that experience was.

Chris McDonald: That does sound powerful because to me, it's like almost ego wellness to being outside, but then you got the animal assisted and it's just, you know, and then you have you, the facilitator, that's just so many great parts together.

Amanda Graham: Yeah. I think part of the experience is being out in nature. Yeah. The ecotherapy, all of that is, we know so much more about it now than we ever have, just like with the horses.

But what I really find interesting, Chris, is that when we do the herd meditation, the horses They may be far off in one part of the pasture or they may be in the stalls, you know, kind of away from us when we start. But as soon as we start meditating, every time they all four start coming out, that's so cute.

They come out into the pasture and just, it's like they can feel it, you know, they can feel our presence.

Chris McDonald: Yeah. So how, how would you treat someone with anxiety with horses?

Amanda Graham: Hmm. That's a good question. I use a lot of meditation techniques with people who are anxious. I have some resources for mindfulness practices that I help people practice before they ever come in, you know, that they can do on their own.

And so I have people start with some mindfulness practice. before they ever even go in with the horses. And then sometimes being with the horses can be anxiety producing. I mean, that's a great example. Sometimes people are afraid of horses. So we almost use kind of a structured exposure technique. So that if someone is feeling nervous about going in there, if that's increasing their anxiety, we measure where they are with our levels and so forth.

We would stand far away from the gate. and practice some breathing and measure where they are. We would go in closer and measure where they are and eventually move into the pasture. I think that's one of the values of working with horses is that they are so big. And so they oftentimes represent things that are big and scary for us.

So one of the horses may become the anxiety. So we use some narrative therapy techniques. of thinking about the life story where we allow the client to internalize and explore the internal, but we as a character, but we also allow and incorporate and encourage the client to externalize. So instead of we might do those techniques of calming and then going in and approaching slowly and monitoring and breathing, or we might take an externalized approach and just invite the client, go out with them.

So thinking about that anxiety, where do you see your anxiety out here? What does it look like? Is there someone, a horse out here that maybe feels like your anxiety and give them the chance to explore? So there are a lot of different ways to approach it. I think the real beauty of experiential therapy is kind of like, you know, outward bound and all of those ropes courses that were so popular many years ago.

It's that same concept. If we learn about ourselves when we do, when we get out of our comfort zone, when we have a support, and in this case, we're also bringing in horses who. You know, they read our non verbals. That's how they survive. And so they're going to be giving us input about whether they want us close.

Or not, and if the course is moving away, then we have an opportunity to work with a client about, well, what is that feeling like what's going on for you? How would you like it to be different? How could you approach this situation differently? What are you learning about yourself? Yeah. Well, let's take

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Okay, and we're back. So I appreciate you sharing about the anxiety piece because I think that experiential is so different than just going to an office for therapy. It's more hands on and you can't always prepare. I'm sure for what's going

Amanda Graham: to come up and you're right.

Chris is is. Anytime you're outside of the office, there's a level of risk and concern about what may happen. And, you know, we're very careful in terms of explaining, framing for people what this experience is like. It's, you know, not mandatory. I see people that I don't use the horses, but we sit outside in nature too.

So there's that piece, but I think framing and getting people ready for the experience is really important. But I think the opportunities. When we are able to take that small risk and try something different and have that feedback is just phenomenal. The impact on people, their whole stories change about themselves.

Oftentimes we've had just some incredible stories and part of the reason we work in stories is because we know that when stories change, we change, you know, we change our stories, our stories change us. Is there

Chris McDonald: any other therapeutic modality? I know you mentioned narrative therapy. So is there any others besides mindfulness and meditation that

Amanda Graham: you use?

With horses, you can really use whatever modality. I do a lot of parts work with people. I'm not certified and, you know, trained up in IFS, but I've certainly done self study. I've just not been certified. And I find a lot of people, the parts work is very helpful. That's kind of fascinating. Well, it is because again, we're externalizing.

We're externalizing. And so one of the horses may become part of the person's parts. So the person can have the experience in their own body and then also externalize it and learn, you know, what is it about that horse that feels like that seven year old. Amanda, what are the characteristics there? And what does that 7 year old Amanda out there need or want?

What is the message that that 7 year old Amanda is giving you right now as you're out here with her? So we can really, it's almost psychodrama in some ways as well. So there's a lot of different experiential approaches that are mixed in there. Yeah, I can also train integration. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think the integration is huge and we see it.

You know, we see it all the time. It was so interesting. If I can tell a brief story, go ahead. Yeah, we had a client, we've been working with a client, Jenny and I, who's my co facilitator, have been working with a client who's doing a lot of parts work. And she has just made leaps and bounds towards integration.

She's been able to get off some of her medication. She's getting better family relationships. So a lot of things have changed for the positive in her life. And there was a change at the farm. One of our horses actually died unexpectedly. Oh, that's sad. And yes, so it was, you know, there was a loss there, but for her, this horse was One of her parts.

And so it was like, how do you work with that? You know, that suddenly the part is not there. And so there was a lot of discussion about that and a lot of experience about that. And what she came to is, you know, the part is still there. It's just changed its form and it may have a different name now, but it hasn't.

Its presence is still felt. And so there was this huge transformation about not needing to have the physical manifestation of her part, that she really was ready to let that go and allow that part to become part of her true self. So, you know, what looked like it might be a tragedy, and of course losing our horse was, but You know, it, it could have been a number of responses to that, but what it turned out being was really an opportunity for transformation.

That's beautiful. Yeah. We, you know, we just try to use whatever is, and that's the whole mindfulness piece. Whatever is happening right now is whatever is happening right now. So it sounds like

Chris McDonald: you got to be flexible and open as for the yes.

Amanda Graham: 20 years in various settings. And there are times when I still go.

I really don't know what we're going to do next. You know, there's still that sense of. You know, the client leads. This is a, this is a framework that I use where the client is the expert in their lives. And my role, if I'm working with them alone, and my role with Jenny and the horses is to really create an environment for this person to explore.

The journey that they're on, and I'm not going to try to throw obstacles in the way, but I will ask challenging questions, you know, and I will provide opportunities for the person to grow through that with the horses, but yeah, flexibility and really being in the moment ourselves. I mean, I practice meditation and mindfulness for years myself.

So I know the value of that because it. Allows you to think on your feet and just allow the story to unfold as it needs to. I would

Chris McDonald: think creativity, too, plays a part because it sounds like you could really be creative with what you're doing.

Amanda Graham: You know, that's so true, Chris. Creativity. It's just, I think that's part of the reason I've been enjoying it for so long.

I mean, I've learned different skills and different modalities, but you're right. The creativity of being out there and not knowing. You know, of seeing what the horses bring, being surprised and curious by what happens between the client and the horses.

Chris McDonald: That's so healing right there, isn't it? That curiosity and just not knowing.

Amanda Graham: Yeah, and it allows the client to begin to settle into that uncertainty. You know, that we can be uncertain, but we can be curious. It doesn't

Chris McDonald: have to true every day with clients with struggling with uncertainty, because I see so many with anxiety. So that is perfect to think about. That would be a great way that they could get help to with thinking of this kind of experiential kinds of therapy, you know,

Amanda Graham: yeah, I don't think of this work necessarily as somatic work.

I mean, I know there's a whole line of school and thought and practices, but we are working in our bodies. You know, we are out there and we learn a lot about when we get anxious, as you say, the first thing that happens is what we go into our heads. So we learn the skills in the space with the horses to be able to bring our energy back into our bodies, to be in presence with the horses and the horses definitely help us do that.

They're just as steady as they can be, just as steady as they

Chris McDonald: can be. I bet, I bet it's a little. easier to teach mindfulness to with with the horses too, because it's, they're just right there in front of you instead of just sitting in an office.

Amanda Graham: Yeah. And allowing the client to notice. how the horses respond to them when they are more quiet and present.

Yeah, that's powerful. The difference between coming into the space with a lot of energy and which we all have, right? Our minds are just designed to keep going. But when they begin to quiet, noticing the difference between how the horse reacted when you went in and how the horse reacted. When you finished and then as facilitators for us to find the right timing to help the client kind of transition out of that space.

And where does this take you for next week? You know, we're constantly building on the story that occurs in the pasture in the same way that with therapy, you know, we're week to week. We're building on what the client's working on. We're doing the same thing in the pasture with the horses. So next week, yeah.

One of the things we'll check in is, you know, what's, what stood out for you from last week? You know, is there anything that's been popping up based on your experience last week? And we begin and we kind of begin chapter two there, you know, begin the next chapter. Great way to start a

Chris McDonald: session too. Yeah.

What stood out for you from last week? Yeah. What did you find overall are the key benefits of using this kind of therapy?

Amanda Graham: I think one of the key benefits, Chris, is that it speeds up. It happens very quickly. Much quicker than traditional talk therapy. I've had clients, a client that I'm working with right now.

That's not therapy, but it's personal growth. It's unbridled self journey program. I've been I've seen her 5 times. Each session has been an hour and a half. It's just been the 2 of us. This has not been facilitated, but she came in in a place of. Really not knowing what to do with her work, with her physical, she says, physical problems, her anxiety has been through the roof, her husband, you know, relationship, there's just like everything.

And she says, I just don't know what to do. And because we had a little bit longer to work, which some of our sessions were actually two hours, we were able to really help her get grounded. And one of the transformative moments was in the second session, she was talking about this relationship and this scary secret that she had about it.

And we went out into the pasture and I said to her, I said, so where out here would you place that scary secret? And she looked around and she said, I think it would be way over there. It's dark. I said, are there, are there any horses or any characters over there? And she said, no. And I said, okay, so, and you're here.

And then what's needed to help? And these were key words that had come up earlier. What is needed to help get out of that scary place? And we walked around the pasture. She interacted with some of the horses, and I just basically stayed with her silently. And she came back to the middle of the pasture, and she said, acceptance.

I need to accept that scary secret. And I said, well, before we end today, I'd like you to look around and see where that acceptance place might be. And she looked around, and she looked up the hill. And there were three horses standing up there, and she says, that's the acceptance. That's the acceptance, and that's me, and that's my husband.

And that's my son. It's just like mic drop, right? Yes. I

Chris McDonald: can. As you talk about this, I'm very visual. I can like picture this in my mind. It's just like, Oh, I'm ready to cry. That's like amazing.

Amanda Graham: Wow. It is. And again, going back to your comment, I have a lot of these stories. Don't you? I do. I love it. I love it.

I do. But your creativity comment is so on, on the guard. Yeah. On spot.

Chris McDonald: So I'm sure that it really keeps you further invested in this process

Amanda Graham: too. I love it. It's my life's work. I'm

Chris McDonald: sure of that. Is there certain kinds of horses that are needed for this kind of therapy

Amanda Graham: or? Probably any horses will work. I say that, first of all, they need to like being around people, you know, horses are like people.

Sometimes they are not social. You know, they tend to be social, but maybe they don't want to be around humans and we take a trauma informed approach for the horses as well as we do for the people that we always provide choices for people about what they do or don't do for our clients. And also, I provide choices for the horses.

So, if the horses don't want to interact with us, we're not going to force them. So. First of all, does the horse like being around people? And if they do, just doing some safety assessments in terms of, are they kickers? Are they biters? Are they bolters? Any horse can do any of those activities. However, some horses are more prone to do it than others.

So it's just really assessing where they are. Most of the horses I'm using are older and they've seen that, been there, done that, seen that. Um, but they surprise me even so, but I think essentially you just want to make sure that the horse is not inherently. Aggressive and that they like being around people and that they're curious, the more curious the horse, the more interested they're going to be in helping to create a story with the client.

Chris McDonald: Do you have to train the horses or is it just see what happens when they just

Amanda Graham: see what happens? Yeah, we oftentimes halters. So the horses are just loose. They come and go as they want. And that's the choice. That's a trauma informed choice.

Chris McDonald: Yeah. No, I love that. It's trauma informed. I listened to your language too when you said, I invite you.

You had said that on one of your stories, I think. So yeah, that's very much like yoga language. Very trauma informed. That's right. And not forcing things and giving that

Amanda Graham: invitation. Yeah. We want people to be able to do things in their own time and in their own way. And so there's, there's requests and there's invitations, but there's never a let's go do, or you go need to go do this.

We really want to be honoring of a person's. Where they are in their process,

Chris McDonald: but what advice would you say to any listeners who are therapists that might be interested in getting involved with this kind of program? Well,

Amanda Graham: there are a number of organizations that do trainings. We also have, you know, we have heard meditations, we have retreats.

I may be doing some trainings out there at UNBRIDLED next year in 2024, but I think scoping things out and looking at what program, if you wanted to do some training, might be helpful. Um, the other possibility is if you know someone who's a horse person and has a farm, talking with them or seeking that out to see if they might be interested in collaborating with you, you know, as a team, so have a horse professional and a mental health professional.

I happen to be both, but you don't have to be. You can, many people work as a mental health professional and then have a horse person. More and more, I tend to work on my own just because I'm working more on my own farm. And sometimes it's easier for people to connect with me. With it's just 1 person, but I think having both the important thing is from a clinical safety practice perspective is you want to make sure you've got the expertise needed in the space with the horses.

Yeah, that

Chris McDonald: makes a lot of sense. And because it sounds like from what you said, there's lots of different kinds of programs too. So, I think just looking at all your options and seeing what might fit for

Amanda Graham: you. Yeah, if you enter into if you enter Google, as you probably know, equine assisted therapy or equine assisted psychotherapy or any of those, you'll come up with tons and tons and tons of programs.

But I would really encourage you to do your homework if you're interested. And certainly I'd be happy to talk with anyone who would like to discuss that possibility and help guide them. So we'd welcome

Chris McDonald: have any upcoming community events or anything if anybody wanted to come out

Amanda Graham: and visit? Yeah, we have, um, we actually in, um, 10 days, we have a way finding through grief.

Which is a on September 24th Sunday, which is a full day event for people who are grieving loss, grieving the death of loved ones that will incorporate horses. It will incorporate art. It will incorporate movement. It will incorporate storytelling. So it's going to be a full experiential day. So that's available.

And we do have a few seats left. We also have our monthly herd meditation. So, November 5th and December 3rd, we have, it's a Sunday afternoon from 2 to 3. 30 and people can register for that on the website and we'd love to have people come out. And that's open for anybody? Anybody. Those are open. Anybody in the community.

Yeah. We love to have people come out. Awesome. I gotta get your

Chris McDonald: information. You can come. I know. Well, that's what I was thinking. So, I would love to share this in my Facebook group, my holistic counseling and self care group, because there's a lot of local people, too, that might be interested in coming out.

So, I think that would be a beautiful thing.

Amanda Graham: I need to get on your Facebook page. Absolutely.

Chris McDonald: I don't know that I'm in there too. If they're not there, we'll put it in the show notes to us, the holistic counseling and self care group. Well, what's the best way for listeners to find you and learn more about you?

Amanda Graham: Probably the easiest way is www dot. unbridledwayforward. com. It's that simple. Um, they're also welcome to email me at amanda at unbridledwayforward. com. Those are probably the easiest way. I am on Instagram. I am on Facebook. So, you know, they can find me there under unbridled way forward. Awesome.

Chris McDonald: And we'll have that in the show notes listeners too.

But I want to thank you so much, Amanda, for coming on the show.

Amanda Graham: Thank you, Chris. This has been fun. It went by

Chris McDonald: fast. I know. But listeners, thanks for tuning in today. But I wanted to let you know that you are not alone if you struggle with self care. Many counselors find it difficult to find the time for self care practices.

My book, Self Care for the Counselor, was written for you. And this easy to read guide, you'll find it jam packed with holistic strategies to help create consistent practices, help you find balance, renewed energy you need as a counselor, go to hcpodcast. org forward slash self care that's hcpodcast. org forward slash self care and grab your copy today.

And again, this is Chris McDonald sending each one of you much light and love. Till next time, take care. Thanks for listening. The information in this podcast is for general educational purposes only, and it is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are giving legal, financial counseling, or any other kind of professional advice.

If you need a professional, please find the right one for you. The Holistic Counseling Podcast is proudly part of the Site Craft network.

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