By Kate Naylor and Bettina Shultz-Jobe
Natural Lifemanship is a training and mentoring institute focused on the science and healing of trauma. We see trauma each and every day, and yet, we will never get used to it.
We are heartsick over the deaths of so many people in Uvalde, TX this week. It is all too easy to imagine the complete and utter despair of the families that are left to pick up the pieces. A devastated community is reeling. As mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, siblings, and chosen family ourselves, we at NL have struggled to absorb the news.
To withdraw, to feel helpless, to hide from the scary reality of our world would certainly make sense – and we will all do it at times. It is simply a part of being human and experiencing deep grief and fear.
We all crave safety and when that sense of safety feels out of our reach, the brain and body go into a survival mode. We will all need to be gentle with ourselves.
Granting space for grief
The truth is, the reason we as an organization haven’t said anything publicly about Uvalde yet is because most of us have been grieving, crying our own tears, and at a loss for words. When we encountered the words of the San Antonio Mennonite Church from 2020 we were reminded of why.
“There are not adequate words of consolation or outrage.
There are not ideas or concepts or explanations.
So first we have to go ancient.
We have to go into the ancient old prayers in a language we don’t know
We have to go to ancient truths and trust our mortal and mourning hearts there.
It begins with tears.”
Do you remember the webinar Bettina and Kathleen gave on the concept of embodiment? Here it is if you missed it. In this conversation, the big take home message was that in order for us to fully grapple with something as profound as grief we must allow space for both being and doing. One without the other is incomplete, we are incomplete.
Honoring liminal moments
Once again, we find ourselves in a moment when the way forward isn’t either/or, it is both/and. We need significant contemplation and deep feeling; AND then our actions can be informed by our embodied experience.
In these liminal moments – this “great inbetween” where the tragedy has already happened, but the impact is only beginning to be fully realized – we have a responsibility as healers and trauma informed professionals to pause.
This doesn’t mean we don’t take action – we know we have a responsibility to say and do something, and we have clients who need the support that we offer. However, action without intention can do more harm than good.
Grief is a powerful motivator for action – but if we jump into action before we truly allow ourselves to grieve, to avoid the recognition that pain is the inevitable bedfellow to love, then we move into action from a place of survival. At times a selfish place, it is reactionary and lacks the well of compassion and humility needed for truly seeing the complexity of our own internal experience, as well as the complexity of others.
Pausing allows us to feel what is arising for us in our shock and sadness. When we feel deeply but cannot move into action eventually, our feelings remain stagnant and unproductive. In fact, this thwarted action can become trauma stored in the body.
You are not alone
We love our NL community, and we remember that moments of utter darkness offer us something, if we can bear to accept it. When others are suffering, we can offer connection and remind them that they are not alone. When we are suffering, we can seek connection and remember that we too, are not alone.
It is a simple, yet profound, gift. It is thoughts and prayers, deeply felt, plus action that is fully embodied.
Some wounds cannot be fully healed, but connection can be like a salve, making wounds more bearable – we do not have to carry the experience of grieving alone.
Do not look away
At a time like this, we are reminded of Brené Brown, and her words about suffering, pain, and the power of human connection.
“My mom taught us to never look away from people’s pain.
The lesson was simple:
Don’t look away. Don’t look down.
Don’t pretend not to see hurt.
Look people in the eye.
Even when their pain is overwhelming.
And, when you’re in pain,
find the people who can look you in the eye.
We need to know we’re not alone – especially when we’re hurting.
This lesson is one of the greatest gifts of my life.” BB
This is, of course, not always easy. But remember that connection exists on a spectrum, and we each have kindness to offer in some form. When helplessness creeps in, remember that small acts of kindness (a meal, a hug, a listening ear) done intentionally, make an impact. NL trainer and co-founder of Pecan Creek Ranch, Rebecca Hubbbard, has written an important children’s book about this called, Kindness in a Scary World, that we highly recommend for children and adults alike.
As trauma informed professionals, it is important for us to remember that we must find connection and care for ourselves so that we can offer connection and care to others.
The ripple effect of our own healing
Because we are a community of trauma professionals – we will be holding the hands of those who suffer, who grieve, who fight back despair. It is a very real and tangible experience for those of us who do this work every day.
Offering connection is our human responsibility, and even more so as trauma professionals – we are called on to help shoulder the burden of suffering. This is something we can do, even when the world is a scary place. And when we take action from a place of thoughtful, intentional self-awareness and self-connection – we are doing something profound for others, and for ourselves.
As hard as it is to accept, as our respected colleague, Dr. Veronica Lac, Executive Director of The HERD Institute®, articulates so clearly in her poem, we are indeed in the same room where this pain is happening. We cannot look away.
In the Room Where It Happens
I never want to be in the room where it happens.
These tragedies that keep replaying.
Again, and again.
I never want to hear the screams of terror, grief, and anger in the aftermath
of these atrocities that keep repeating. Again, and again.
I never want to feel the anguish and fear of the first responders who rush to the scene,
nor of the teachers acting as human shields,
nor of the parents whose precious children
are in the room where it happens.
No one wants to be in the room where it happens.
But we all are.
____V. Lac, May 2022
We want to know, what do you need in order to keep going? What do you need in order to not look away? How will you sit with your pain, so that you are better able to take action that comes from a place of service and connection?
Natural Lifemanship® has evolved—and our new branding reflects these changes. It is my deepest hope that these changes stir a transformation in you. For decades, we have shared our unique principles with clients and practitioners around the world, teaching the power of connected relationships and watching with awe and wonder as our world heals and grows one relationship at a time. While our practice and teaching is ever-evolving, moving with each new shift in the universe, and adjusting to the impact of those shifts on the mental health and wellness of our communities, the platform from which we shared our work became outdated. Our website did not offer enough guidance for professionals to find the tools and trainings that would best meet their needs. Although many have found what they needed, and began a journey with us, we often received feedback that the process of committing was time-consuming and confusing. This has changed. The breath that comes into my body when I say that is lovely, so I’ll say it again. THIS. HAS. CHANGED!
Our Tagline is an Invitation
As we move into this exciting chapter, we invite you to “walk with us.” Our tagline acts as an open invitation for those who wish to build their life and practice on a foundation of essential principles. With a principle-based process, the journey of learning is ongoing – we will walk with you every step of the way. Our trainings are designed to meet you where you are and guide you to where you want to go – there is no “one size fits all” approach. Our seasoned trainers are ready to support your unique personal and professional growth.
Our Logo is a Symbol of Who We Are, Together
Developing a logo is a process of exploring one’s identity – when we began creating our new logo, the NL team members each saw something different. It was intended to be a hoof, but the image allowed us to also see a thumb print, ripples in the water, as well as a representation of movement in general. The abstract nature of our logo is intentional – we have created something we hope you will identify with, no matter where you are on your journey. Whether you see the hoofprint of the remarkable equines with whom we share this process, or the ripples of healing that we as practitioners initiate in our field of work, or something else entirely…we do not just welcome you to NL, we are building our organization with you in mind.
The Look and Feel is Grounding
The earth tones we have incorporated into our brand are reflective of our love of and belonging in nature, and our continual pursuit of a grounded approach to healing. The feel of our new site is a reminder of the landscape that shelters us, the plants and animals with whom we share our lives, and in particular, the equines with whom we have the privilege of being partnered. We are committed to continuing our evolution – to always growing so that we are better prepared to nurture your growth. Together, we can create ripples that spread far and wide.
We Have a Path for You
When you visit our site, you will see a deep commitment to the Equine Assisted Services (EAS) field and an opportunity for you to start or continue your EAS journey. A quiz has been designed to help you better understand your needs and how Natural Lifemanship can support you. We’ve designed an interactive experience on our training page where you can choose one of four designated training paths, or create your own. Our certification path is simplified and clear, and NL membership is offering more community and live contact and support from our trainers (including Tim and me) than ever before. Additionally, we’ve included videos and testimonials throughout the site to explain what sets us apart, and why that matters to your life and practice. See our evolution for yourself and learn how we can support you on your own unique and sacred journey. We are so honored to get to walk with you!
You’ve likely heard the exciting news! The Natural Lifemanship Institute has evolved its brand and is subsequently transforming to better meet the needs of our growing community of professionals.
We hope this includes you.
Learn more about our evolution, what our new NL membership includes, and how you can grow your impact by becoming part of something bigger.
The Evolution of Natural Lifemanship and What It Means for You
While the Natural Lifemanship model began developing in 1986, we still believe there is much more to learn and explore. Just as the mental health needs of people around the world are constantly changing based on the various and often unexpected fears and struggles we experience, we too must remain ever-evolving.
Therefore, we decided that it was time to pave a clearer and more direct path for professionals from different walks of life to pursue a principle-based approach to working with clients, horses, and discovering themselves.
Our metamorphosis gives you the opportunities to access tons of career-changing education and resources, trainings designed to support your personal and professional paths, and the opportunity to experience a transformation yourself.
As Equine Assisted Services professionals and a community of helpers and healers, we invite you to walk with us.
A Closer Look at Natural Lifemanship Membership
In the same way the Natural Lifemanship brand evolved, so too did the NL membership plan, which now provides you with a larger and more comprehensive toolbox to support both your life and practice.
With the new all-inclusive membership plan, you get discounts on exclusive online courses, Building Your Resilience offerings, and events including our highly-anticipated annual conference. A variety of FREE online events are available each month for NL members. Plus, you get hundreds of hours of FREE online learning and opportunities to speak with NL founders (including me!) and trainers each month.
Our choice to focus on just one membership plan allows us to ensure that each and every member gets the highest level of educational resources and training available. That means YOU have more access to the learning materials that will improve the ways in which you interact with horses and clients.
To put it simply, we wanted to give you more—and now we’re doing just that.
How the New and Improved Membership Benefits You
What can you expect when you become an NL member and take advantage of the member benefits? If you ask other NL members, you’ll hear similar responses.
“ A toolbox of regulation and relationship skills, a depth and breadth of knowledge.”
“Improve not only your professional development but your personal growth as well.”
“Changes you’ll witness in yourself, your horses, your families, and of course, your clients.”
“An incredible group of people willing to dive in, to grow as individuals and professionals.”
While the overall price of membership slightly increased (for some of you), the impact you’ll experience from joining our growing community of EAS professionals and walking with our NL team will far exceed your expectations.
Want to get a free membership?
The best way (and highly recommended) to take advantage of the NL trainings and resources is to pursue NL certification, which includes NL membership. Our certification is unlike other EAS certification programs in that it requires a long-term commitment to your personal growth, your professional practice, and the sustainability of your business.
We believe it takes valuable time and mentorship to effectively integrate Natural Lifemanship’s *TI-EAT, **TF-EAP, or ***TI-EAL into your work with clients, so we offer the very best of our knowledge and expertise as well as our guidance and full support.
By walking the path to NL certification, you access all the benefits of NL membership along with a transformative experience that will shift the trajectory of your work and evolve your life and practice.
||*TI-EAT Trauma-Informed Equine Assisted Therapy
|Licensed mental health professionals
||**TF-EAP: Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
|Coaches and others in the healing professions
||***TI-EAL: Trauma-Informed Equine Assisted Learning
Read more about our terminology here.
Here’s How You Take Advantage and Grow Your Toolbox
If you have yet to become an NL member and wish to join, you can go here to sign-up.
Or, if you are interested in pursuing NL certification, accessing NL membership for free, and evolving your life and practice, you’ll find everything you need to get started here.
Become Part of Our Growing Community
We are more than an organization that equips professionals from various walks of life to help people heal, grow, and recover from trauma. We are also a community—and we want to welcome you in.
Having worked in this field for more than 35 years, our NL team understands the importance of growing to meet the ever-evolving mental and emotional needs of those we serve. Our clients grow because we grow.
When you become part of our NL community, you not only access the decades of experience and knowledge we’ve gained, you also learn from other professionals who walk a similar path. Together, we are working to help change lives using the unique principles of connection and relationship we developed many years ago. We strongly believe that where one can make an impact, many can change the world.
Join us as we continue to challenge ourselves, our communities, and the mental health and wellness profession. Join the many, and together let’s change the world.
In any professional field, there are always going to be a slew of terms and acronyms that are routinely used that are unfamiliar to those not in the field. It can unintentionally create an “insider” and “outsider” feel for a person.
We don’t want “insiders” and “outsiders”.
While we do need to be accurate and ethical in our description of services and qualifications, it is our sincerest desire that you feel welcomed, that you feel you belong here, and that you can find your way around. It is also of utmost importance to us that our clients and consumers have the same experience when seeking a professional.
At The Natural Lifemanship Institute, we believe that how we talk about what we do matters. The language we choose to use reflects our intentions, based on our values of connected, healthy relationships.
In order to help you orient not only to the field of equine assisted services at large, but to how Natural Lifemanship specifically speaks about these services, we have created this table. Below you will find the terminology NL uses and our recommendations for how you use this terminology in your practice as you grow with us.
The following diagram explains the collective term of TI-EAS, as well as the more specific modalities of TI-EAT, TF-EAP, and TI-EAL.
TI-EAS is the unifying term we use for all the modalities we certify professionals to practice through Natural Lifemanship. TI-EAS stands for Trauma-Informed Equine Assisted Services and encompasses all the myriad ways professionals can partner with horses in healing or learning environments. This is a collective term––so there are subsets when we get into the specifics of scope of practice and skill sets of the individual professionals guiding the sessions.
Scope of Practice is one’s own limit of skills, knowledge, and professional experience––made up by the activities routinely performed within one’s professional role. One’s scope of practice evolves as new knowledge and experience is acquired through continuing education.
This means that within the umbrella term of TI-EAS, there are a few options for how you would describe your work, and these descriptions are entirely dependent upon your other skills that you bring outside of your training with NL. Natural Lifemanship training alone does not prepare you for doing ethical work with people – it is a perspective and an approach that supports you in being trauma-informed for both humans and horses (and other animals) as you provide the services your other skill sets allow you to provide.
For example, an equine professional can become a Trauma-Informed equine professional (aka Natural Lifemanship certified equine professional) through our training, and will be prepared to assist a therapist, coach, educator, etc in bringing horses into healing/learning sessions with people – or the equine professional can obtain additional training in coaching/education/therapy/etc to provide services solely on their own. Natural Lifemanship training will not prepare an equine professional to become a coach, therapist, or other kind of educator. Visit our certification page to dig deeper into the different paths offered.
A certification with NL does provide a trauma-informed lens for partnering with humans and horses, and pairs with any number of other professions (examples are in the table above) to offer healing/learning sessions to humans.
We use the term “Trauma-Informed” no matter the scope of the professional we train, because our expectations of trauma competency do not change from one practice to the other–– it is our belief that being trauma informed (the details of which you will learn throughout your training with us) is a basic requirement for providing competent and ethical care to anyone. A foundation of knowledge in the science and research that has created trauma informed practices are essential to effective and ethical healing work – therefore our approach to equine assisted services is always trauma informed, no matter who is conducting the session.
How you specifically apply your learning with NL (whether it be therapy, coaching, learning, etc) is largely addressed through practice and consultation, as well as discussion with mentors and supervisors during and after training. Throughout your certification process you will be supported in applying your learning to your specific skill set and scope of practice. The knowledge needed and taught during our trainings will be the same for everyone; the applications of what is learned will be unique to you.
All this terminology can be a little dizzying. Ultimately, it is our hope that this evolution of language in our field will help you find your place here in Natural Lifemanship – one that is relational, ethical, and clear.
We will walk with you every step of the way.