Case Studies

Self-confidence and communication
training sessions in Pembrokeshire

Horse Sense For Life has carried out numerous case studies on emotional well-being, self-confidence and other aspects to help their clients.

Emotional well-being - Sun, 03 January 2016

Case study from previous client with Horse Sense for Life

Donna sought equine assisted therapy (EAT) because of a brain haemorrhage, followed by major surgery which brought her close to death. She needed help to come to terms with what had happened and to put her life back together.
She has a long history of counselling of various descriptions, which she finds both helpful and enjoyable. She became aware of equine assisted therapy thanks to a television programme by the actor Martin Clunes, and was impressed by what she saw, and felt that it fitted well with her own background of involvement with horses.
She had a day-long session with Selina and the horses. Early in the session she explored the negative aspects of the trauma she had experienced, but as the day progressed, with Selina’s help, she moved on to dealing with the future and what direction she wanted her life to take. She describes a process whereby the horses were very attentive and supportive when she needed them to be, but when the session drew to a natural close and she was feeling much more positive about her future, they sensed that she was happy, and wandered off.

Donna described EAT as being very fast in terms of how quickly she achieved the results she wanted. Therapies she’s used in the past have left her feeling quite down, whereas EAT left her feeling very positive and upbeat. She also appreciated how client led it is. In the past, group therapy has been dominated by other peoples’ agendas, and counselling by the agenda of the counsellor, problems that she didn’t encounter through EAT with Selina and so were more effective, and achieved useful outcomes more quickly. In that sense she felt it represented very good value for money, describing it as “fabulous”.
Donna singled out Selina for particular praise. Having a long history of counselling and being a qualified counsellor herself, she feels well placed to compare Selina’s offering to others, and describes her as “incredibly professional and incredibly good at what she does”.
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Asperger Syndrome - Sun, 03 January 2016

Jason has Asperger Syndrome, as a result of which he has difficulty in social situations. These difficulties have had a number of significant impacts on his life, particularly in education, always as a result of social rather than academic problems.

He has received various treatments over the years, some drug based and some talking based, some self-financed, some NHS financed. Drug therapies have worked to some extent, while talking therapies have not, but regardless of the efficacy of the various treatments he has received, any improvement in his ability to cope have been temporary. Jason is also very disillusioned by public mental health provision, which he feels has let him down.

Jason’s mother heard about Horse Sense For Life and felt it might benefit him because of equine therapy’s excellent history of helping people with social difficulties. He describes his sessions as being far more effective than anything he has previously done, and that those positive impacts are achieved without drugs and in a much shorter period of time. Like earlier treatments, the positive impacts wear off over time, but the impacts last longer. Jason is very positive about returning to Horse Sense For Life from time to time in order to keep his symptoms under control, because he knows that it will be effective and not too time consuming.

He describes his encounters with the horses as being incredibly powerful, with the horses being very sensitive to his mood, particularly the anxiety which plagues him. Related to this is that he feels human beings are too prone to faking their reactions to him. Horses in contrast act on instinct and so are incapable of fake reactions. He especially appreciates that he isn’t judged, which he feels always happens with human therapists however competent. In addition he feels that a practical activity in addition to talking is important.

Jason’s view of Horse Sense For Life is especially interesting because of the range and extent of the talking therapies he has used in the past. He has found talking not to be particularly helpful, although he is quick to point out that it can work for some. He dislikes giving therapists lots of detail about his life without ever finding out anything about the therapist.

As a result of his work with Horse Sense For Life, Jason is much more positive about his life, and is about to embark on a degree in Sports Journalism. He’s confident that this time, with support from Horse Sense For Life he will be able to complete the course.

Depression - Sun, 03 January 2016 -
severe depression and suicidal tendencies

Sarah suffers from severe depression and has had suicidal tendencies. She believes this stems from her upbringing in a repressive and authoritarian religious community, an upbringing she now sees as being abusive. In addition to depression, her past has created problems in her relationships.

She has undertaken a number of therapies over the years to try to deal with her problems, including psychotherapy and counselling of several different types, but none have been particularly effective. She met Selina on a course, during which they discussed equine assisted therapy (EAT) and Sarah decided to try it. She had six hour long sessions, each one week apart, which she describes as “utterly remarkable”.

During the sessions, after a short discussion with Selina, she got to know the horses and developed a role play exercise during which each horse represented a person in Sarah’s life. She did this herself, based on what she had come to know about each horse, and how that related to key individuals in her life. She felt “extraordinarily loved by the horses” and that they were very “tuned in” to her. She found the experience calming, and it helped her to connect with her life in a way that she hadn’t been able to do before. The interactions between the horses and between Sarah and the horses gave her an insight into the relationships with which she was struggling.

Sarah describes the horses as having a sixth sense, which they used to play out the relationships in Sarah’s life. She is uncertain to what extent she was projecting this behaviour on them, but feels that the process of interpreting their behaviour was extremely helpful to her regardless. In her words: “every session blew me away, with the amount of insight it generated in me”. In addition she felt connected to and loved by the horses which in itself she found very helpful, and different to other interactions she has had with pets throughout her life, particularly cats and dogs. “The horses are different. They seem a lot more intelligent. They seem like, if they could talk, they’d have a really good conversation with you. I don’t feel that way about the dog. They have more depth, more intuition.”

Sarah describes her depression as a journey, which she is coming out of. She says her suicidal feelings reduced considerably during her EAT, and she no longer feels that way. She describes EAT as being a key part of her journey out of depression and enthusiastically recommends it to others facing similar issues.

Corporate leadership development - Sun, 03 January 2016 -
The Realise Organisation

Jason has Asperger Syndrome, as a result of which he has difficulty in social situations. These difficulties have had a number of significant impacts on his life, particularly in education, always as a result of social rather than academic problems.

He has received various treatments over the years, some drug based and some talking based, some self-financed, some NHS financed. Drug therapies have worked to some extent, while talking therapies have not, but regardless of the efficacy of the various treatments he has received, any improvement in his ability to cope have been temporary. Jason is also very disillusioned by public mental health provision, which he feels has let him down.

Jason’s mother heard about Horse Sense For Life and felt it might benefit him because of equine therapy’s excellent history of helping people with social difficulties. He describes his sessions as being far more effective than anything he has previously done, and that those positive impacts are achieved without drugs and in a much shorter period of time. Like earlier treatments, the positive impacts wear off over time, but the impacts last longer. Jason is very positive about returning to Horse Sense Fr Life from time to time in order to keep his symptoms under control, because he knows that it will be effective and not too time consuming.

He describes his encounters with the horses as being incredibly powerful, with the horses being very sensitive to his mood, particularly the anxiety which plagues him. Related to this is that he feels human beings are too prone to faking their reactions to him. Horses in contrast act on instinct and so are incapable of fake reactions. He especially appreciates that he isn’t judged, which he feels always happens with human therapists however competent. In addition he feels that a practical activity in addition to talking is important.

Jason’s view of Horse Sense For Life is especially interesting because of the range and extent of the talking therapies he has used in the past. He has found talking not to be particularly helpful, although he is quick to point out that it can work for some. He dislikes giving therapists lots of detail about his life without ever finding out anything about the therapist.

As a result of his work with Horse Sense For Life, Jason is much more positive about his life, and is about to embark on a degree in Sports Journalism. He’s confident that this time, with support from Horse Sense For Life he will be able to complete the course.

Team building - Sun, 03 January 2016 - Turning Point staff team building experience

Turning Point is one of the latest organisations to use Horse Sense for Life; operating nationally to provide drug and alcohol support to adults and young people. The Slough branch runs an integrated treatment service for under 18s and we work alongside another partnership agency to be part of the treatment service that delivers support for over 18s. Here Vikki Lake, the operations manager at Turning Point Slough explains why she chose Horse Sense for Life and the benefits it has brought. 

“I found Horse Sense For Life through Google initially. Turning Point has another project up in Sheffield that was using some equine-assisted therapy with young people and they found it really beneficial. So I just did a search for some equine-assisted therapy in our local area; Horse Sense For Life came up. And just in the conversation I had with Selina Joynson I discovered they have worked with some service users over in Reading, so they have the experience of working with drug and alcohol users - Selina just sounded really passionate about our project. She really wanted to help some of the young people that we were going to be working with. So we just kind of hit it off from there really.

“First we had a taster day for some of the staff on the Young People’s team just to get a taster of what the therapy would be, how it would work with the young people and what kind of things we would like to do with them. I then booked for my whole team: My Adult Team and my Young People team to go for a full day's training as a staff away day.

“They did lots of communication skills, lots of team-building, understanding how they best work together as a team. And in between that, there’s been some occasional one-off individual sessions for some young people that we’ve taken up there.

“The main thing I learned on that day was that we are quite a close team and we tend to communicate better without speaking. Selina did some really great activities with the team where they weren’t allowed to talk, and mostly they managed to complete the activity really effectively and successfully without speaking and the activities where they were allowed to talk, they found it quite difficult to communicate effectively because everyone was trying to express their ideas, they were quite strong, quite opinionated and people weren’t listening. So I think we’ve established that we listen better than we talk, and we can communicate just as effectively without always speaking to each other, which is really useful.

“It was amazing to get out of Slough into the countryside too. Seriously, many of our clients simply don’t see the countryside. So to get them out into a field where there are no buildings around, there’s no police sirens going on; just to have that break really, that peace and tranquillity, is something they don’t get to experience. It shows them that there is another world outside of Slough. There is more to life, there are other things to strive for, other things to aim for. And there is another way of being. Things don’t have to be the way they are. Things can be different. They can be different. And the interaction with the horses added to that. It just makes them see things in an entirely different way to how they were looking at things before the session.

“Going forward we want to focus on a project we are running called ‘What about me?’ It's a project for children and young people who are affected by parental substance misuse. So the children and young people aren’t users themselves but they have a parent or a close family member that has been using drugs or alcohol around them, and that obviously has an impact on the young people. We have 12 young people in the group ranging from the ages of 7 - 13. All of them have experienced some kind of trauma in relation to their parents’ substance use.

“So equine-assisted therapy is going to be used; We’re going to take these young people over, to Selina, we’re going to do two full day sessions mainly around confidence building, a little bit of teamwork, self-esteem building absolutely is necessary, how to keep themselves safe really, how to express themselves effectively, how to create proper personal boundaries and just using the horses really. And I think the message is kind of, if you can create a boundary with a horse and get the horse to respect you and see you the way you want it to, then you can do that in every aspect of your life: building that confidence and then to be able to do that.

“This is something that is really different and I think it requires a complete shift in your state of mind to do it. It’s something that people aren’t necessarily used to doing, not everybody comes into contact with horses in their daily life and not everybody has ever come into that close contact with a horse. So it requires a personal shift I think and it changes perceptions of yourself, it makes you more aware of how your behaviour impacts others definitely, because you can see the impact that you are having on a horse really clearly. And it doesn’t rely on words. It doesn’t matter what words you say to a horse, it’s not going to make a blind bit of difference. It is how you communicate that’s really important.

“A lot of young people at the moment are using the gang culture and that kind of language. To take that away from them and have them express themselves without being able to use swear words and without being able to talk in the way they talk; it makes them access a different part of themselves which they then know they can access in future. Without being round the horses, they didn’t know it was there before. And I think that’s a really valuable message for them to take away: That they can be somebody different.

“I would definitely recommend Horse Sense for Life; it is something incredibly different. We’ve worked as a team together now for just over three years and we’ve had a few different away days. And everyone said that the away day we’ve done with Horse Sense for Life is the best one we’ve ever done. It taught them so much, it was a break from the norm, it made them think really differently and we learned so much from it.”
Based in Pembrokeshire, we serve clients across Carmarthenshire, Oxford, East London and Warwickshire. Get in touch with us now to find out about our corporate events
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for training sessions on communication skills in Pembrokeshire, Oxford, East London and Warwickshire.

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