Sarah has really done an amazing thing in finally blending the systematic, regimented protocol of EMDR with the intuitive, somatically and energy based practice of partnering with horses. It truly feels like science meets art in an alchemical mix that is transformational for clients and practitioners.
Gillian Ashley-Martz MSW, RSW, RCC
This Equine Assisted EMDR training was the most professionally and personally helpful and inspiring training I have ever participated in. I feel a renewed sense of excitement about my work as a psychotherapist as well.
Lori Olsen, MC, LPC, SEP
At EMDRIA conferences Dr. Francine Shapiro would encourage all of us trained in EMDR to return to our communities & help our military suffering with PTSD. In 2014, I felt the need to start a non profit to work with our military. As a Certified EMDR therapist & new horse owner I thought there must be a way to combine the two disciplines. Viola! I happened to see Sarah's Equine-Assisted EMDR training posted on the EMDRIA website. Now, 5 years later, we established Equines For Freedom. With Sarah’s guidance & expertise we have developed a successful program treating veterans & first responders with complex PTSD.
Ann Marie Lewis, MA, Pennsylvania Licensed Psychologist, Clinical Coordinator Equines For Freedom
As an equine specialist coming into the mental health field, I had so much to learn to best be able to support the therapists I work alongside. The Equilateral training program, both the webinars & the practicum, were rich with valuable information, clear & concise explanations & opportunities to ask questions. I came away with a solid understanding of the eight phase EMDR protocol & ideas of how to incorporate horses to better facilitate this process within my team. Sarah has always made herself available to answer questions & consult with both mental health & equine professional team members. I have not hesitated to recommend Equilateral: The Equine Assisted EMDR Protocol to many others in this field, & absolutely will continue to do so.
Equines For Freedom
What Is Equine Assisted EMDR?
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What Is Equine Assisted EMDR?
(In 2021, Now Celebrating Its 10th Year!)
I get this question a lot. But, to answer that question, we must first explore what EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitizing Reprocessing) is. EMDR Therapy is a well researched and evidence based therapy created by Francine Shapiro Ph.D and the treatment of choice to treat trauma and other distressing life experiences.
EquiLateral ™ is the protocol for Equine Assisted EMDR. Equine Assisted EMDR is still EMDR therapy, but we are in partnership with horses and incorporating the equine assisted experiences to support all of the eight phases of EMDR Therapy.
The EMDR therapy phase that gets the most attention is Phase 4, the processing phase, where Dual Attention Stimuli (DAS) often in the form of eye movements, are used alongside of working on the distressing memory. Some folks might still reference this as BLS (BiLateral Stimulation), But, there is way more to the stimuli used. In fact, each phase builds upon the next and a therapist trained in EMDR should know this and be able to describe "where we are in the phases of EMDR" at any point, and in every moment, to make sure that clients really are getting good EMDR therapy. It makes a big difference. EMDR therapy is more than just eye movements.
With Equine Assisted EMDR, the partnership with the horse(s) supports and helps to even deepen the EMDR, experientially, but also enables clients to "be more here" in the work.
Yes, really, horses.
Equine Assisted EMDR brings horses, humans, and EMDR together. The Equine Specialist (ES) and EMDR Therapist (EMDRT) are in partnership or an EMDR Therapist may be dually trained and be in both roles. There is an ongoing understanding regarding "where the client is" within each EMDR phase. Through Equine Assisted EMDR, the horse(s) co-facilitate(s) all eight phases, co-creating scenarios, activities, and experiences as well as utilizing what the horses offer.
So, why involve horses in EMDR?
We can't heal distressing experiences if the therapy, itself, still keeps us thinking that we are in the past, is re-traumatizing, or keeps one feeling "stuck." Truth is, sometimes that happens in office. Equine Assisted EMDR keeps us in the "now" while healing "then," and in all phases of EMDR.
But, that's not all.
Horses are teachers of many of the things needed in order to consciously move through the phases of EMDR therapy. Believe it or not, horses "get it." Many a trauma survivor has described to me that Equine Assisted EMDR just "feels just "different" than in office EMDR, for example describing that horses ask for a "realness" that trauma recovery requires. In fact, most of my clients with complex trauma and dissociation are doing Equine Assisted EMDR work with me.
In Equine Assisted EMDR you are also invited to experience the world from the horse's perspective and share in powerful moments that support the deepest EMDR work. Those that I have trained in Equine Assisted EMDR are encouraged to not only be sound EMDR clinicians, but mindful partners with the horse(s) as co-facilitators of Equine Assisted EMDR.
For more information of What Horses Have To Do With EMDR you can also visit my 2012 Topic Expert Contribution on .
I created Equine Assisted EMDR and offer the EquiLateral ™ Equine Assisted EMDR Protocol Training approved by the EMDR International Association. I offer these trainings only 2-3 times a year so space is limited
2014 EMDR Canada Conference Interview: Sarah Jenkins