In the world of equine-assisted mental health and equine-assisted learning, Leif Hallberg, M.A., LPC, LCPC needs no introduction. An internationally-acclaimed author, educator, consultant, and therapist, Leif explores the myriad benefits that can be gained from respectful, mindful interactions between horses, humans and the natural world.
Leif’s workshops and trainings are unique because the content is based upon her extensive scholarly research and exhaustive academic study, and her 30+ years of experience as a horse trainer, riding instructor, mental health professional, and leading expert and pioneer in the area of equine-assisted mental health and equine-assisted learning. Leif does not offer a specific model or method, rather she designs innovative professional development workshops and trainings that increase provider competency across a wide range of skills and topics. The content Leif presents can be applied to any model or training program, and is designed to compliment and enhance existing knowledge.
Leif’s workshops and trainings address current research, issues, and trends within the industry, and help to foster collaboration and community across all different provider types and orientations.
Including horses in mental health and learning is an extremely complex and dynamic process. No two providers, horses, clients, or students are alike or have the same needs. That, coupled with the ever-changing quality of the natural world, requires a depth and breadth of knowledge and experience that cannot be achieved through a single workshop or model-specific training. Competent professionals are those who engage in life-long learning, expanding their knowledge in new and different areas while continuing to do their own personal growth work.
Unlike typical education, coaching, or therapy provided in a four-walls setting, professionals including horses in mental health or learning are required to understand the intricacies and reciprocal relationships between many different systems while being skilled and practiced protecting the wellbeing of all involved in the service, both human and non-human alike.
In the P.A.C.E. Model ™ of Animal-Assisted Therapy, Tanya Bailey of the University of Minnesota visually demonstrates the knowledge areas a provider must be competent in to safely and effectively provide a human-animal-nature interaction.
Leif’s goal is to create educational and personal growth offerings that teach a solid foundation of safety, ethics, professional and business practices, and horsemanship skills, while inspiring participants to continue learning and exploring their relationships with self, others, and the natural world.
Fostering Collaboration & Professionalism
The industry of equine-assisted mental health and equine-assisted learning has been fraught with interpersonal and professional struggles that suggest there may be a need for a reinvigorated focus on specific skills of social intelligence and self-awareness. Kidd, et. al. (1984) suggest horse owners may be less cooperative than other animal owners, stating, “Horse owners were found to have high levels of assertiveness and self-concern, but low levels of cooperativeness, novelty-seeking and nurturance” (in Robinson, et. al., 1991, p. 44). This propensity may contribute to the challenges this industry faces related to authentic collaboration.
Healthcare literature speaks to both the interpersonal benefits of a collaborative approach, and also to the broader ramifications of collaboration within the healthcare industry (Walker, et. al., 2013; Wu, et. al., 2014). Key aspects of a collaborative relationship include understanding and abiding by intellectual property laws and scope of practice laws, using a shared decision making process, and demonstrating mutual respect and trust (Schadewaldt, et. al. 2014).
No one person or organization can be everything to everybody. Recognizing strengths and weaknesses, and learning to reach out and rely upon the talents and resources of others is a powerful growth opportunity. This approach naturally leads to greater diversity, and the creation of a robust and healthy industry.
In order to foster a truly collaborative industry, doing our own personal growth work is essential so that we can all learn to connect in a healthy, authentic way — with self, others, and the natural world.
Come to one of Leif’s workshops and fall in love with learning!