Crisis….or Chaos?

Crisis….or Chaos?

Dear NL Community,

Is it just me, or is this whole pandemic lasting FOREVER???  Did anyone ever dream we would still be in the thick of it…..STILL?  I sure didn’t.  Clearly that was wishful thinking.


The other day, some of the NL staff was once again checking in on each other (via zoom) – How is everyone feeling these days? How is everyone managing? What are you thinking about/worrying about/afraid of?  Many of us acknowledged we were having a pretty tough time. 


The added stress of school uncertainty this fall has only deepened the anxiety we are all feeling.  Some days are good, many are not so good, but the challenges we are facing this year just seem to continue with a consistency that makes our usual coping methods feel less effective than usual.


What is a Crisis?

The topic of crisis came up as we explored not only our own feelings but also the possible feelings and experiences of our valued NL community and beyond.  Bettina remembered a story shared with her from one of our trainers – of Hurricane Harvey that devastated Houston and surrounding areas.  The hurricane was predicted, albeit imperfectly, but at least a warning came.  The storm arrived and was intense, but eventually, it passed, as everyone knew it would. 


Even though the waters rose and wreaked astonishing destruction, we all knew the rains would come to end – a storm cannot last forever. Many people’s homes, including the one belonging to our NL trainer, were flooded or completely destroyed.  But not all homes were flooded.  Not everyone was devastated. 


And so, the Houston community rallied, neighbors showed up, and rebuilding began.  While the process was overwhelming, there was an end in sight.  There were enough people who weathered the storm well enough to have energy and resources to give to others..  Homes could be rebuilt, neighbors helped neighbors….hope bubbled up.


This was a crisis.  A devastating event with a beginning, a middle, and an end.   There is some predictability, even in a hurricane.  It will come and it will go – some will need enormous help to recover, and some will be spared so that they may be the help that arrives.


This pandemic, though, does not feel like a crisis.  This pandemic feels like chaos.


Its arrival was not predicted, we were given no warning, no time to prepare.  We were in shock and denial. The understanding of what is going on, how it is unfolding, and how we should respond has also been chaotic, disorienting, and upsetting. 


And now we are heading into the 7th month, with the pandemic still permeating our country.  We are suffering unimaginable losses.  We are uncertain about pretty much everything – who we should listen to, who we should be around, how we should move forward.  The end of this pandemic is coming, of course – but how it will unfold is entirely murky.  When? How? Leaving what destruction in its wake?


Dear NL community, we are in chaos – the beginning, middle, and end of this pandemic are distorted and prolonged and therefore mostly out of our tangible grasp. 


It is NO wonder that we are panicked, argumentative, afraid, sleepless, short-tempered, overwhelmed, shutting down, and completely exhausted.  The helpers and healers in this country are doubly-burdened – not only do we manage our own lives during a pandemic, but we also consistently help others manage their lives during a pandemic. 


All of us are being activated into emotional states we didn’t expect, or didn’t want – and many of us are feeling stuck there. And to stay stuck in difficult emotions and reactions causes fatigue….major emotional fatigue.  Nothing about this period in our history is normal, and unlike previous national events that have challenged us, this one just keeps ongoing.


We are all tired. We are all stressed.  We are all scared.  


Why do I write to you to remind you of all the muck we are in?  Because I also want to remind you that you are not alone.  We are ALL struggling, AND I still see helping hands everywhere.  I keep seeing people bravely asking for help, and each time watching dozens of responses of “I am here, what do you need?”.  We are still all in this together, we are still neighbors, even if only virtually.  


And NL is still here for you.  


When we cannot control the chaos around us, we shift focus to the chaos inside us and to the power of relationships.  What can we control?  How can we connect with others?  How can we cultivate peace inside ourselves?  How can we find resilience in such a time of chronic stress and unpredictability? 


The relational neurosciences give us a roadmap for how we can support ourselves and each other.  We know that connection and bringing predictable rhythms into our every day can make a big difference in times of chaos.


Being part of a community, too, is powerful medicine.  We hope to continue supporting you in our online events, on social media, and anywhere else we can connect.  


Our upcoming Interconnected 2020 Conference is the perfect way to find connection, community, and both personal and professional growth. When the future is uncertain, staying grounded becomes both necessary and transformational – for each of us, as well as our clients and horses.  Join us for this experiential and highly unique online event and participate in over 75 workshops, including daily healing practices, that are trauma-informed, somatic, movement, and attachment-focused!


 NL’s Interconnected 2020 Conference – with Daily Healing Practices each AM and PM


Take good care, and keep reaching out,

Kate Naylor, LMFT, NLC – C,EP

The Natural Lifemanship Institute

Director of Trainer Development and Community Engagement


If you are seeking support, here are some other resources that might help:

Building Your Resilience series for self-care (with choose what you pay options!)

Tips for Bringing Rhythm into Your Daily Life

Check out other NL blogs we have recently released for you

Best Apps for Mindfulness

Deep Breathing Animation – simply watch and follow along!

Find a Sit Spot (great for kids too!)

Our Inner Child

Our Inner Child

Our current world is confusing, conflicted, and chaotic, to say the least.  Images of peaceful protests marred by violence, looting, and clashes with police, continued uncertainty about the true nature and dangers of COVID, economic worries, and a myriad of other accompanying concerns have left us exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotionally devastated.  We are feeling the collective strain of too many traumatic stressors coming at once, exceeding our window of tolerance and capacity to cope with our existing strategies.  


In the absence of clear leadership and guidance on how to respond to these crises, many of us are experiencing the phenomenon therapists refer to as “regression,” or the emergence of the inner child we all carry within us.  Even an essentially stable, relatively healthy childhood involves numerous hurts and rejections common to growing up (think:  middle school) and leaves us with some wounded younger parts that we carry into adulthood. Childhood trauma can leave us with younger parts that are literally frozen in pain and fear. These tender selves are activated during times when our adult selves feel helpless, hopeless, confused, insecure, or lost.


They essentially need to be “re-parented” with acceptance, kindness, grace, and patience and integrated into our adult self through this healing process. This happens in the context of healthy, predictable, safe, connected relationships with others, where younger parts are assured they will not be abandoned or abused as they were in the past. 


New neural pathways for security and trust are built when we experience a different and positive outcome in a relational context, such as being understood and accepted instead of shamed and rejected when we share a struggle or hurt with another person. Relational safety allows our younger parts to heal and “grow up” into psychological maturity. An important element of the therapeutic process is creating a safe and stable alliance between the therapist and client (and horse in EAP) so that these wounded parts can progress through the developmental stages that were missed due to the survival strategies we get stuck in when growing up in unsafe environments. 


The “life jackets” we don in childhood can become the “straitjackets” of our adulthood.


If you are struggling with feeling lost about what to say or how to feel or act in the current polarized climate, try to notice that feeling without judging, minimizing, avoiding, or acting on it.  Make some space for the discomfort, the uncertainty, the distress.  Notice if any of these feelings connect with territory familiar to your childhood, to see if your younger parts are being triggered. 


Our deepest desire is to be fully known and fully accepted, and our greatest fear is that if we are fully known, we will not be accepted.  We all have “shadow sides” that we are afraid to acknowledge.  Many of us struggle to give voice to our wounded younger parts.  I struggle alongside you to find the right way forward during these confusing times.  No matter what the color of our skin, the same heart beats underneath.  We all need to be accepted, valued, and loved.


To learn more about Inner Child Work sign up for our conference Interconnected 2020 and attend the following workshops: 

Regression and the Inner Child

Equine Connected Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EC-EMDR) and Inner Child Work

The Journey into Self-Leadership:  Integrating the Internal Family Systems Model (IFS) with Equine Assisted Practice Parts 1-3

Guided Inner Child Meditation  

What Are People Saying About Our Newest Training?

What Are People Saying About Our Newest Training?

WOW!  That is all I can say as we wrap our second cohort of the fully online Virtual Fundamentals of Natural Lifemanship. We started this training in May and have already had over 150 participants!  Our participants have been amazing, the learning has been monumental, and the feedback has been incredible!  As a trainer, I have so enjoyed connecting with students in so many new places  – Costa Rica, Hawaii, even Australia!  

You know, at first I was nervous about this course.  Natural Lifemanship, and our model of Trauma Informed Equine Assisted Psychotherapy/Learning is just so experiential – it must be felt to really be understood.  Could a fully online course really help people learn what it means to be trauma-informed??? 

To be honest, I had my doubts.  But now I know differently – our participants are truly feeling their way into the principles, guided by the rich learning over the duration of the Virtual Fundamentals.  Because this course takes place over 10 weeks, our participants are able to really engage and digest the information, while also practicing applying the principles in their everyday lives.  Whether you have access to horses or not, the science and principles presented in our training seeps into your very way of being, especially when you intentionally spend the time.  

I also love that we can engage with students in an online forum and in live office hours – as well as offer real feedback on practice videos. The videos have been such a joy to watch – Core and Jumpstart Fundamentals participants set out to practice what they are learning with their own horses, just the two of them – I love seeing the learning unfold in each partnership (and I know the other instructors, Bettina, Tim, and Tanner agree wholeheartedly!!).  All students (including those who take the Foundations option) get to learn from each other’s feedback – the learning is rich!

Now I am just so thrilled we are finally offering this online course – and I can’t wait for the next cohort that starts September 14th!  I hope you can join us!


But don’t take my word for it….

“I feel like I have learned more about connected relationships and the importance of them in the last eight weeks than I have in my entire life! I will absolutely be back for more trainings and can’t wait to learn more.”

– Victoria Pello, Equine Coordinator, The Last Resort


“The NL staff (founders, trainers, and related personnel) did a phenomenal job of compiling content into a series of weekly modules where participants could engage with materials (e.g., videos, blog articles, manual, webinars) virtually. There was a lot of valuable information to review and soak in but with permanent access to the online course, I am conveniently able to go back and review content as I see fit! I am still new to the Natural Lifemanship model but because of this training, my new job and the wonderful horses and humans I get to work with daily, I am confident that I will start to witness the powerful impact this unique work has on the lives of many!”

– Shayla Anderson, Intake Coordinator, Barnabas Horse Foundation


Participants love the flexibility!

“I have taken the online Natural Lifemanship course and was blown away by the thorough and detailed, enriching learning experience. The ability to connect with an instructor was at my fingertips. It was so well done. Thank you for your effort, I am truly enjoying this class and in many ways, I find that the online class has made it easier to retain information with the ability to replay lessons a few times to grasp all of the information and have the video feedback in such a thorough analysis in real time to the actions. I have been able to balance the course between work and farm responsibilities very well because of the flexible nature of the course. The course itself is phenomenal and I am enjoying the new lens that I have to operate within and I see things so differently: relationships, horse rescue work, people’s responses to relationships and each other, and my own self and life choices. Not to mention an amazing “framework/process” to apply to helping horses. I am thankful for this opportunity to learn from your team who is so dedicated and knowledgeable.”

– Mary Elena Moran


95% of participants said this training met their expectations, and in fact many said it exceeded their expectations!

“The Virtual Fundamentals training was a transforming experience for both my personal and professional self. It allowed me to learn invaluable material at my own pace while still providing interaction and feedback from the NL trainers.”

– Kelly Kennedy, Wild Acres Counseling


“This 8 Week Jumpstart Program with NL opened me up to a brand new way of being! I had absolutely no idea what I was in for when I signed up. I feel like I was able to get to know each of the NL team members and felt an exceptional connection to both Bettina and Tim. Their realness, honesty and often playful interactions were so refreshing. The vast knowledge of the team members across the board was amazing and everyone has their place in this program. I will be forever grateful to have taken this course at this time in my life. And I thank everyone at NL for putting me on the path to be a better me! I look forward to meeting you all in person when travel restrictions allow me to come to the US!”

– Beth Sylver–Team Member at Rancho La Merced, Uvita, Costa Rica


96% of participants said they would be able to apply their learning to their work, right away

“Natural Lifemanship training allowed me to expand my knowledge as a practitioner, trust my intuition, and deepen my feelings of connection in my own body. It was like fitting an integral puzzle piece to my practice.”

– Jenna Vissell, MA Mental Health Practitioner, Stable Living, LLC


“It does not matter if you have horse, dog or goat, the principles of NL apply across all mental health services and life situations, from the simple to the complex. It is a comprehensive program, fascinating and effective. It challenges you to be a more balanced individual which in turn touches everything around you.”

– Melanie Stolfus LPC Rockhill Counseling Aubry Texas


“When working with individuals who have experienced trauma, the concepts and principles of NL target the key concerns of these individuals. The blending of attachment theory, neuroscience, and relationship principles are logically based and applicable within a therapy room, classroom, or home setting. It is a comprehensive program which incorporates the use of equines, creativity, music, movement, and sensory integration. Great program! I thoroughly enjoyed this training and can’t wait to utilize it! Thank you!”

– Cheryl Galligan


And some parting thoughts…

“The best equine assisted therapy training that I’ve ever had, and I’ve had many! I can finally answer the question of ‘Why Horses’ with more confidence and scientific understanding than ever before.”

– Juliet Wahlenmayer, NCC, LPC


“This is by far the most important course I’ve ever taken. A connected relationship with my horse will drive all of our interactions and take precedence over task based interaction. I always yearned for a deeper connection with my horse. Now I have the knowledge and ability to attain it. It’s not often I can come away with the ability to easily put course information into practice right away. The course had just the right amount of detail to explain the principles without being difficult to understand. If everyone, horse related or not, understood the principal’s of NL we would all live happier, more enriched and peaceful lives. “

– Ro Wellmaker/horse owner


What else can we say?!?!  Except a big THANK YOU to our NL Community!

Registration closes and the course starts September 14th!  Click here for more information and join us for the last offering of the year! 


A few more testimonials for your reading pleasure  🙂

“I came into this training with zero knowledge about horses. I had never even been on one (still haven’t)! As a therapist, this training was so helpful in building a strong foundation for any work I do in the arena!”

– Lauren Ball LCADC LCSW 


“The Virtual Fundamentals training was a transforming experience for both my personal and professional self. It allowed me to learn invaluable material at my own pace while still providing interaction and feedback from the NL trainers.”

– Kelly Kennedy, Wild Acres Counseling


“I have thoroughly enjoyed the training from NL. The education on brain development and how it affects human and horse behaviors; the use of rhythm to assist with cross-brain connections to allow higher level cognitive processing; the horse and human being capable and responsible for their own control, thereby avoiding domination and control to support and encourage this… These are some of the main ideas I have taken away from this training. Thank-you! I also want to mention that your humble, loving, genuine and intelligent characters have provided a beautiful and fun way to learn. MAHALO!”

– Fronda Harris – Heart Ranch Co-founder


“Natural Lifemanship made their core fundamentals training accessible to all who wanted to join by making it virtual with a practical experience component and feedback. The course merged the biology of horses and humans perfectly with a trauma informed care lens. The trainers, Bettina and Tim, are extremely knowledgeable and made the concepts easy to understand for all learners through various readings, visuals, demos, and oral presentations. I am extremely grateful for this experience and can’t wait to apply all I have learned!!”

– Madison Lee, PsyD Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue


“The NL Virtual Fundamentals course was packed with learning. The videos and recordings of calls and webinars provided several days worth of content that one would have received at a multi-day in-person training. The practice and video with feedback component was a great alternative to an in-person opportunity to practice and receive instructions on fine tuning the methods. The forums allowed for discussion and interaction with the other students in the course. Office hours and additional support were also available – complete with a manual, all bases were thoroughly covered for a potent experience that will benefit anyone looking to enhance their work as a coach, therapist or an equine professional.”

– Christina Stinchcomb, Airy Hill Stables (Equine Gestalt Coach)


“Natural Lifemanship has changed the way I interact with horses and people. The principles that are taught are immediately and infinitely applicable.”

– Kurt Webb


“This Virtual Fundamentals course was terrific. Grounded in science, offering the benefit of decades of professional experience with horses and people, there was a rich depth to all the presentations. During this COVID time, this training was a treat for myself and something I did just for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and already have another online NL course in mind to start next. Highly recommended as a gift to yourself!! “

– Martha McNiel, LMFT, TRI, TDI, ESMHL, CEIP-MH, Director, DreamPower Horsemanship


“I admit, I was optimistic but skeptical at first, if the virtual training option would be a good fit, and would provide me with a clear understanding of the Natural Lifemanship principles, and how to apply them. However, after just the first week, I knew I made the right choice. The easy to follow platform, semi-structured learning and the different modalities used to deliver the content (blog articles, pages in the manual and video) made it interesting. The opportunity to engage in office hour discussions with the professionals and others in the cohort group, was invaluable and made it feel more “real”-as we can all learn from each other and our unique situations. Also, the screencast feedback was easy to understand and I liked the thoroughness each instructor took, to ensure I understand the “why” behind a comment. I appreciated that the trauma informed lens and neurodevelopment information are things that can be implemented in both of my work settings, schools (K-12) and in equine therapy sessions. I feel that this training has given me a more concrete understanding of Natural Lifemanship and I look forward to the continued learning it will provide.”

– Sarah Machold, LMSW, Supervisee in Social Work


“As a PATH Certified TRI and ESMHL working at a PATH center providing both therapeutic riding sessions as well as EAL sessions this was extremely beneficial. We are serving more and more individuals who have experienced trauma in our program. I now have a deeper understanding of how trauma impacts the brain and why the relationship with the horses are so important. The principles of this course are applicable to all areas of the program because it is about the relationship and the connection with the horse. Well worth the time. You will not be disappointed!”

– Emily Padgett, Program Director, Agape Therapeutic Riding Center


“The best equine assisted therapy training that I’ve ever had, and I’ve had many! I can finally answer the question of ‘Why Horses’ with more confidence and scientific understanding than ever before.”

– Juliet Wahlenmayer, NCC, LPC


“When working with individuals who have experienced trauma, the concepts and principles of NL target the key concerns of these individuals. The blending of attachment theory, neuroscience, and relationship principles are logically based and applicable within a therapy room, classroom, or home setting. It is a comprehensive program that incorporates the use of equines, creativity, music, movement, and sensory integration. Great program! I thoroughly enjoyed this training and can’t wait to utilize it! Thank you!”

– Cheryl Galligan


“I’d had a nagging curiosity about NL for years yet I just hadn’t found the time to attend a training. The Virtual Fundamentals of Natural Lifemanship Training Program was the perfect introduction to NL for me. The content was absolutely top notch, going into great depth on all topics covered via video lectures from Tim and Bettina as well as actual video footage from previous clinics. I got to enjoy it all and learn…right at home! They have developed something very important with TF-NL. Bettina is very skilled at bringing scientific concepts of brain and trauma right down to ground level and turning them into almost easy conversation. Tim and Bettina are both incredibly engaging as well as experts in their fields. They share their work with joy, enthusiasm and equal amounts of wisdom and humility.”

– Mari Rubens RN, BSN, EFLC


“I was able to immediately start incorporating the principles of Natural Lifemanship into my office work and my work with horses. NL provides the focus on relationship in the work with horses that was missing in my previous experiences with EAP/L.”

– Sara Rietsch LPC, CAADC


“This foundations course is truly the intellectual equivalent to having a sturdy and well built foundation for a nice house.”

– Abby Martin


“This course has provided me with a strong base for which I can move on to certification with confidence.”

– Susan Mitchell