The child who has never spoken a word and struggles to look his parents in the eye, transforms when he hugs the family dog;
The teenager who storms out of the psychological assessment her parents spent a fortune on, is able to engage when her new ‘counsellor’ turns out to be a horse;
and the middle age adult carrying the weight of years of trauma, convinced that ‘nothing can help me’, starts to soften as the kitten on her lap starts to purr.
Why do these transformations arise?
- “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France
- ” The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.” Unknown
- “Through horses we are granted the grace to be … and the space to become ...” Sue McIntosh
Our social media feeds are full of quotes just like these. Perhaps they make us smile and possibly they validate something we ‘just know’ or feel, deep inside. But do we know why?
At the same time pet ownership in Canada is on the rise, with over 40% of Canadian households now including at least one dog, and close to 40% including at least one cat. Source: Canadian Animal Health Institute
What draws us to being with animals?
This increase in wanting to connect with and learn from animals is also extending into many fields of human healing and wellness.
At first consideration incorporating animals, particularly horses, into a wellness or therapy approach, may simply seem to complicate things and increases costs, for both the service provider and the client. There are increased risks, additional training and certification requirements, the potential for allergies, and a myriad of other considerations.
And yet the fields of equine and animal assisted therapy continue to grow in popularity, credibility, availability and public awareness.
How can animals help those we work with and care about?
Over a series of blog posts we will aim to shed light on these questions; hopefully gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of why and how interacting, developing relationships and simply being with animals – be it in our home, within a therapeutic environment or elsewhere – can benefit us in multiple ways.
This series will explore the following:
- How animals can provide people with the motivation to seek out help.
- Why many of us feel safer in the company of animals and how this can be drawn upon within a healing approach.
- How animals can help create the conditions necessary and conducive for healing and growth to arise: genuineness, empathy and unconditional positive regard.
- Why both what we have in common with animals, and how we differ, allows us to turn to animals as role models, and to learn about ourselves from watching and interacting with them.
- What animals have to teach us about both play and rest.
- How animals can invite us to understand, feel and express our emotions in a healthier way.
I look forward to taking this journey with you!