All Kinds of News for September 11, 2019
Natural Lifesmanship was established in 1986 as a method of helping professionals understand how trauma impacts relationship building and how utilizing the principles of Natural Lifesmanship with horses can help humans build healthier patterns of behavior in all relationships. Keith Bishop, Chief Operating Officer at Q&A Associates, has spent the past few years mastering these principles and implementing this approach in the equine program.
On the continuum of experiences that shape us, trauma in relationships exists on one end and nurturing caregiving exists on the other. The young adult clients of Q&A Associates Family of Programs have all experienced trauma to some degree in their lives. Most of them have great difficulty creating and sustaining positive relationships due to these traumas. They do not know how to create healthy boundaries or recognize true give-and-take with another person, be it a friend, romantic connection, teacher, boss, coach, sibling, or parent. Many of these young adults have been in dangerous relationship situations due to this lack of understanding. These unhealthy patterns of behavior have developed, for the most part, in the subconscious and have become automatic. Recognizing these patterns is difficult; changing them is impossible without lots of hard work and desire on the part of the client. So, how do these young adults develop healthier ways of living and relating?
At Q&A, the principles of Natural Lifesmanship are integrated into the equine program, allowing clients opportunities to move forward in three ways. First, the clients are able to identify unhealthy relationship patterns by experiencing the response of the horses. Second, they are able to adjust their patterns of behavior through coaching and guidance of staff. Third, they begin to develop healthier relationships with the horses and experience the nurturing, connectedness they seek. Most importantly, these concepts transfer into all relationships, which allows the clients to develop healthier, more appropriate relational behavioral patterns at the subconscious level. They develop better relationship habits.
“The horse has choice in its relationship with a person;” said Bishop, “and that is no different than each of us as humans; we all have choice in every relationship in our lives.” As he works with each client, Bishop witnesses how the horse chooses to engage. For the young adult who is living with deep fear of relationship due to past trauma, the horse will not engage until the young adult opens his or her heart on an authentic level. “Gaining connection with the horse can take five minutes or three days,” said Bishop. Clients gain connection with the horse by asking for it, which involves working with the horse on all levels from grooming to ground work to riding. The client is establishing a nurturing relationship by providing care for the horse. When connection is gained, the horse begins to show nurturing care for the client. “This is a very emotional process,” said Angie Shockley, Founder and CEO, “I have seen many clients reduced to tears – tears of frustration and then tears of gratitude and amazement when that connection is made.”
The Natural Lifesmanship process involves becoming aware of the ways the human brain develops to accommodate the experiences of toxic stress and trauma when survival becomes the focus and relationships are seen as unsafe or unpredictable. The clients of Q&A are all demonstrating behaviors of survival such as freezing in their growth, escaping from the trauma through running away, disappearing into technology, using or abusing substances, or seeking unhealthy connections on the physical level. Utilizing horses and the Natural Lifesmanship principles helps the clients create relationships that heal and transform. These connected and attuned relationships lead to sustained natural development.
About Q&A Family of Programs
Q&A Family of Programs works with young adults ages 18 and up, providing opportunities for each of them to develop independent, functional, and happy lives with a high level of quality. Our clients have struggled to reach independence for a variety of reasons such as the inability to develop and/or implement the life skills needed to be successful, or struggling to obtain consistent employment. Our goal is to help these individuals find meaning and an authentic purpose for their lives and a practical path to achieve their goals.