Horses help heal

Kalamunda Reporter - - Front Page - Lisa Thomas

A BULLSBROOK coun­sel­lor has com­bined her pas­sion for help­ing peo­ple and her love of horses to help treat peo­ple with men­tal health is­sues and drug ad­dic­tion.

Louise Atkin­son from Whis­per­ing Sands Equine As­sisted Coun­selling is work­ing with Bullsbrook-based re­cov­ery pro­gram Tena­cious House to help those strug­gling with ad­dic­tion or men­tal health is­sues to claim back their lives.

The part­ner­ship has been run­ning for the past two years and has been suc­cess­ful. The equine pro­gram teaches pa­tients about bound­aries and helps em­power them.

For­mer patient Robert An­drews said the pro­gram helped him re­cover from his ad­dic­tion is­sues.

“At first it was a bit daunt­ing, which is nor­mal, but once I got to know the horses I be­came more con­fi­dent with them and with my­self, and was able to ap­ply what I learned to life,” he said.

“Each horse has an in­di­vid­ual per­son­al­ity and com­mu­ni­cates through body lan­guage on how they felt about a sit­u­a­tion.

“It helped me learn about bound­aries and how to com­mu­ni­cate by read­ing body lan­guage, which I was then able to ap­ply to other sit­u­a­tions and re­la­tion­ships with peo­ple.”

Ms Atkin­son said she be­came an equine as­sisted coun­sel­lor af­ter spend­ing 20 years work­ing as an in­struc­tor of nat­u­ral horse­man­ship.

She said she be­came a qual­i­fied coun­sel­lor to help make a dif­fer­ence. The horses were her part­ners in the process and chose to take part in ses­sions.

“The horses re­ally pick the per­son they want to work with and if they don’t want to par­tic­i­pate they don’t,” she said.

“The horses of­fer such unique feed­back and au­then­tic re­la­tion­ships. Peo­ple have to learn how to say no to the horse with­out up­set­ting the horse and once they’ve done that they can ap­ply that to real life and once they learn how to say no it’s very em­pow­er­ing.

“Horses are also a good con­ver­sa­tion starter. Peo­ple who don’t want to do coun­selling come here and it doesn’t re­ally feel like a coun­selling ses­sion.”

She said the ex­pe­ri­ence of watch­ing horses help heal peo­ple was pow­er­ful.

“There is no rid­ing in the ses­sions, it’s all about han­dling the horse, touch­ing them and learn­ing from their body lan­guage,” she said.

“My pas­sion is to make a dif­fer­ence in peo­ples’ lives.”

Pic­ture: Bruce Hunt­mu­ni­ d473542

Coun­sel­lor Louise Atkin­son and Robert An­drews with Zebedee the horse, which is be­ing used in the Tena­cious House re­cov­ery pro­gram.

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