Moving a human from trauma to healing requires the restructuring of emotional response. Both primary and secondary process emotions (conscious and pre-conscious) must be engaged and soothed (regulation of the sensitive limbic region of the brain). This must come in the form of new experiences. The experience of limbic neuroplasticity (the laying down of new neural pathways and responses) was deeply and beautifully expressed by a client in the following testimonial.
Wow! What an eventful journey I have been on since my healing session with horse! During my session I couldn't tell what was going on in my head or body. In the session you made the observation that the horse was making the greatest amount of expressions (licking, chewing, and yawning, etc.) during my session. I was not aware of that. Yet afterwards I felt that my whole chest area was cleared of tension and angst. It made no sense to me! While I was laying in my bed that night I kept trying to figure out what had happened, but finally I realized it was totally right brain and preverbal. It was then that I experienced a guttural sigh from the deepest part of my body.
In your next group class, while I was trying to figure out what to share about my experience, I started having huge muscle spasms in my back that shook my whole body. (My back is where I have stored my entire trauma.) I had at least 6 of those huge spasms. I felt a huge shift and knew it was a continuation from my session with horse. I was still without words to explain it.
Then, when later talking to my empathy buddy, I realized that the healing was all preverbal traumas and felt a great sense of relief. I felt forgiveness for my mother. I felt an openness all through the core of my body. Now when I breathe it feels like my breath goes all the way down to my toes!! The knots in my back have continued to release and go away. My words are coming back which is a huge healing and relief.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this experience - even though my left brain couldn't understand how being with a horse could facilitate healing!! I was doubtful anything could come from this, and yet it was the most powerful and deepest healing I have had!! The healing relied on the environment, YOUR SKILL, and AWARENESS, with the Black Horse's RESONANCE!
With gratitude and love,
Limbic resonance gives an equine facilitated experience much of its magic. In the Healing with Horses model of Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy and Learning, the horses are recognized as sentient partners who are able to be in choice and communicate their opinions - with a sophisticated limbic view point. Each session allows a rich exploration of the shared emotion between client and horse.
Emotion involves all of the brain and via the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) the physical sensations of emotional states are felt, by horse and human alike. Horses have large and sensitive guts (and hearts) and are much larger resonant surfaces for receiving and responding to emotional information.
There are three stages of limbic neuroplasticity between mammals:
Create a limbic bond or connection; becoming curious about and engaged by each other (resonance)
Build mutual understanding and shared communication via challenges (regulation)
Experience a smooth partnership via an attached relationship (limbic revision)
By observing closely the relationship the client builds with the horse, we are able to "see" the subcortical or pre-conscious levels of process that are occurring in the relationship. We also glimpse the patterns that are below conscious awareness in human relationships for the client. Horses often mirror the suppressed emotion and "release" when a human recognizes a feeling they are experiencing in the moment. This brings the client back into congruence even if they are still feeling the emotion. The moment their authentic feelings are known, the horse will sigh, lick its lips, yawn or roll their eyes. These are signals that an energetic release has taken place.
Limbic revision does not just change our feelings or thoughts about relationship; it literally changes the brain creating new neural pathways which can only be born from new experiences. Such is the power of horses bonding hearts with a human.