Transforming Trauma Episode 108: Somatic Equine Therapy for Emotional Balance and Post-Traumatic Growth with Isabelle Shook
A podcast brought to you by the NARM® Training Institute
Can the art of horse whispering, a perceptive communication technique, work to heal complex trauma in humans? Isabelle Shook, the founder of Equine Guidance in Sedona, AZ, believes that horses possess an empathetic energy––telegraphed via non-verbal cues––that can resolve symptoms of stress, shock, and trauma in those seeking support. In this episode of Transforming Trauma, Emily discovers how Belle fosters this unique therapeutic experience and the approaches she and her herd of four-legged collaborators utilize to encourage client transformation.
“When I think of complex trauma or trauma in general, it's really about healing relationships,” confides Belle. “Today, more than ever, we have the opportunity, collectively and individually, to heal the disease of disconnection.” Horses may seem like unlikely allies for such intense repair work, but, as Belle explains, they are “geniuses at the somatic experiencing work…because that's their natural language.”
Belle, who’s been involved with equine therapy since 1998, created Equine Guidance in 2004 as trauma-informed practice and relies heavily on her NARM training to facilitate client growth. “There's a spiritual aspect to it in that we're working with the horses (a trio of American Bashkir Curlies named Mimi, Penny, and Salsa) as guides to help clients have a top-down, bottom-up approach.” She appreciates NARM’s ability to marry the cognitions and emotions of the former with the instinctive, sensory-level responses of the latter. “It becomes this beautiful blend of the horses kind of being masters at the bottom-up approach, and then me supporting and continuing to help the integration and insights and awarenesses from the top-down.”
To connect with one of Belle’s equine cohorts is to find quiet acceptance and strength. As formidable as these animals are, their innate ability to tune into human neurobiology creates a safe environment where humans can explore their own capacity for reconnection and regulation.
We’re grateful to Belle for sharing her equine-centered approach to healing with us. The case studies referenced in this interview demonstrate NARM’s compatibility with other trauma-informed modalities and its ability to transform the entire therapeutic process. We invite the Transforming Trauma audience to learn more about Belle’s practice and how she incorporates NARM into her sessions by engaging with the entire episode.