Meet Your NL Membership Guide: Clair Gose

Our membership circle is growing—so we found a guide to help lead the way. 

Meet Clair Gose, a lifelong horse woman born and raised in Texas, who combines her love for horses, people, and organization in her new role as Natural Lifemanship’s Membership Services and Event Coordinator. 

We recently sat down with Clair and reflected on her new position with NL, her experience in working with people and horses, and what it means for her to lead our vibrant community.


Getting to Know Clair Gose


How did you come to know Natural Lifemanship? 

My sister, Kate Naylor, has been part of the Natural Lifemanship team for about a decade. She spoke often about NL’s unique principles, which gave me a lot to think about when it came to my own relationships with horses. 

Because of her experience and my own desire to form more connected relationships with horses, I took the Fundamentals course and started incorporating it in all of my work. Prior to joining NL, I was an equine sports massage therapist and worked with traumatized horses at an equine rescue. 

I was able to successfully apply the principles I learned, with the horses I worked with and experienced firsthand the value of NL’s approach. 

What was your knowledge of equine assisted services prior to working with NL?

While I had worked with horses in the past, I had never worked with them in a psychotherapy or learning realm or as a mental health practitioner. As a Reiki practitioner, I focused more on body work and energy work—and my perspective was purely from the physical. 

Once I delved deep enough into the physical realm, I was able to understand the impact of emotional health on the physical body and used this when focusing primarily on the horses. 

What is your role with NL? 

My formal role is event coordinator and membership services. This encompasses my love of people, horses, and organization. Before I got into my career with horses I was doing production coordinating for film and television in New York City. 

I was always drawn to roles that revolved around organization. I love taking a big mess of information, straightening it up, and telling everyone where they need to be and when. 

One of my roles with NL will be coordinating the trainings and the conference coming up in March.  (Save the Date!  We’ll be together March 22nd – 25th.)

Perhaps my favorite role is membership services. Membership has grown so much that there needs to be one contact between Natural Lifemanship and everyone who wants to learn the process. 

My job is to guide new and existing members towards the resources designed to deepen their own personal and professional work. 

How does your previous work with people and love of connection play into this new role?

My hope is to get to know our existing members who have grown so close to the NL team and open new connections to those looking to join. This is also a great opportunity for me to come in as someone who is still learning the process and connect with others who are also learning the process. 

I am not too far ahead of the new people and so I can be a direct guide, learning along the way and helping people to get closer to where they want to go. 

What’s your favorite part about this role? 

Working with the incredible Natural Lifemanship team! It honestly makes me emotional because I’ve never experienced this level of support from colleagues. This feels like a place where I can really grow, and help others grow as well. 

What does the work of NL mean to you?

Natural Lifemanship feels like the most ethical way to build relationships with horses. They seek their consent and take into consideration their thoughts and learning abilities instead of forcing them into unwanted situations. Everything I’ve learned from NL puts a different lens on the way I interact with the horses I know and encourages me to do better.


Lightning Round 


What did you want to be when you grow up? An actor or a pastry chef. 

If you could go to any city, state or country, where would you go? France—right on the Mediterranean.

What do you believe about people? Everyone has a form of genius that they contribute to the world. 

What does your ideal day look like? Get up early…have coffee….there’s always going to be a book involved…eggs benedict for brunch…time by the pool…a ride somewhere…and a steak and pasta dinner with red wine and a movie. 

Want to become an NL member and walk with Clair and the rest of the NL team? 

We’d love to welcome you. 

Visit our membership page for more information or contact us or schedule a customer service call now and we’ll help guide you.



Uvalde, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and the Power of Connection

How can something like this happen?


If you are anything like me, you have been wrestling with this question lately – and honestly have been wrestling with it for years, as news reports plague us with stories of violence across the country, and across the world.  

I am writing to you, our NL community, and beyond, to those of us who have not been directly affected but are wrestling with ‘what to do’ – this is a time for us to dig into what it means to be a community.  What it means to be trauma informed.


What it means to truly connect 


The families involved in this latest tragedy and all the violent tragedies that have come before are suffering profoundly – I don’t expect them to do anything but grieve.  But as observers, as helpers and healers, it is time for us to hold, and practice, a truth.  

Connection is hard, painful even, and it is so so necessary.

It has been one week since the devastating event in Uvalde where over 20 individuals, mostly children, were killed by an armed shooter. While I struggle with my own grief and fear, I see countless others in my community doing the same.  Debates have broken out about how to prevent something like this in the future – what actually would work to keep us from having to live this again and again? To keep families like those in Uvalde, Sandy Hook, and frankly, hundreds of other communities, from experiencing the worst losses imaginable?


There are no simple answers  


I suspect the solutions are much more nuanced and complex than we all want to admit. When we are afraid, we want clarity, we want to do something.  It is normal to feel strongly, to want to take action, to think of ourselves and our safety.  Bettina and I wrote about this in our first blog after the shooting.

Unfortunately, nothing is as clear cut and simple as we would like it to be.  

But there are, and will be, things we can do – individually and as a community.  As a bit of an outsider to Uvalde, I find myself wanting to understand the situation more deeply – it feels like a responsibility to those who are within the community, suffering so acutely.  A deeper understanding offers me clarity of purpose when I think about “what can I do?”.  

While the logistics of what occurred on May 24th are important of course, I see what happened through a trauma lens.

I believe, without a doubt, that a ripple of trauma is at play when these episodes of devastating violence occur. It breaks my heart, and yet, it also gives me hope.  I am broken hearted because understanding how trauma works means that I know, for a fact, that the young man who committed this horrible crime (and the others who have come before him) was in terrible pain – and without any other way of managing his pain, he gave it back to his community.


“The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.” 

-African Proverb


Stories about the Uvalde shooter are emerging, and they are sad ones.  

I sympathize that compassion for this young man may be hard to come by – some of us may be feeling a revulsion, or downright hatred, for a person who could commit such an act. Admittedly I recognize it is very soon after the event to ask you to consider anything else. I do not mean to side-step the overwhelming horrors the children in that elementary school faced, or what the families and community members who survived are now dealing with.  

I wonder, though, if we can bear to hold both – the bottomless suffering of those who have lost so much AND the deep suffering of a young man, a child still really, who felt so alone he was motivated to act the way he did.


Can we hold both?  


It is a lot to ask. I understand if you are not ready. If this is where you are, it is ok, it is human to feel this way – and I hope you will continue to consider the rest of my letter.

Consider that hating this boy only brings more pain and isolation. More trauma. It does not contain our solution. Consider that connection is what we are made for, it is who we are, and when an individual resorts to violence it is because they felt so little connection that violence seemed the only way forward for them.

“Love me when I least deserve it because that is when I need it the most” (this anonymous quote hangs in Bettina’s office).

The young man in Uvalde was raised partially by his grandparents, as his mother battled heavily with drug addiction. A father or father figure was not mentioned in accounts of his life, though it seems a neighbor tried his best to be a role model. This young man was bullied horribly in school for being different – for having a speech impediment. He was often in fights. He was teased for wearing old, worn clothes. He committed acts of self-harm and threatened aggression toward animals and other humans. He lived through domestic violence, with police making a frequent appearance outside his home he shared with his mother.

This is an old story. It is not just about the young man in Uvalde. It is about all the people across our country, in our very own communities, who suffer from lack of support, lack of connection, lack of love. There is no single person, no single village to blame for it, because disconnect is passed down from generation to generation, and ripples far and wide. Our culture suffers from a profound problem with connection or the soul-crushing lack thereof.


What Can We Learn?


We are a community of trauma professionals, and understanding the humanity inherent in each and every one of us is a significant aspect of calling ourselves “trauma informed”.  The science of neurobiology tells us that we are all a blend of nature and nurture, and that our nature is in fact highly influenced by the nurture that occurred in previous generations.

We are the outcome of our relationships, our environments, and our support systems over the generations and most acutely, during our own developmental years.  To arrive at age 18 being a violent “loner” with an unstable home life and an aggressive thirst for vengeance is not a fluke, but a result of layers and layers of wounding.  This is not just in Uvalde, this is everywhere.

No one is immune from pain so deep we lash out.  It feels like a heavy responsibility, but a necessary one, to remember that each and every one of us could become cruel under the right circumstances.  

We are human.  

This young man was human.  

To cast him out into any other category does us all a disservice. There is no “us” and the cruel/evil/murderous “them”. There is only “we”.  

When we reject someone in pain, when we hate him, we exacerbate the very problem that created him.


How Can Adverse Childhood Experiences Help Us Connect?


I understand if you are not ready  to hear what I am trying to say. It is a hard truth. It asks us to feel deeply, and rise above our survival instincts. Again, listen to your body––allow yourself to grieve and feel it all – anger, rage, sadness––when you are ready, maybe you can revisit this conversation with me. If your body tells you that you are ready for this discussion I ask that you allow me to offer a little more, to help us sink a little more into understanding.  

Let’s take a look at a simple measure, that of the Adverse Childhood Experiences survey. This measure looks exclusively at home life, and has 10 measures. For each adverse childhood experience, an individual receives a score of one. The closer to 10 adverse childhood experiences a person is, the more dire their adulthood experience can be – including significant physical and mental health issues.

​​The 10 ACEs are defined as the following childhood experiences:

– Physical, sexual or verbal abuse

– Physical or emotional neglect

– Separation or divorce

– A family member with mental illness

– A family member addicted to drugs or alcohol

– A family member who is in prison

– Witnessing a parent being abused

Based on the accounts of the Uvalde shooter’s life leading up to the shooting, and looking at the quiz questions to measure the number of ACEs possible in his home life, it is safe to estimate that this young man experienced at least 7 of 10 ACEs. (For reference, a score of 6 or higher is said to take at least 20 years off your life, not to mention cause marked difficulties in daily living).

For the possible childhood experiences considered “adverse” and damaging, he experienced at least 70% of them. 

It is also important to note that the ACEs cover a range of adverse experiences within one’s own home, but do not include community based experiences a youth can experience like bullying at school, the general stress and risks of poverty, lack of a support system/friendships outside the home, lack of support within the school system (the young man in Uvalde skipped frequently and was not on track to graduate with his peers), and the myriad unsupervised online encounters that are possible. 

ACEs also do not cover the wider struggles our country is facing culturally and politically. Our country is divided, angry, and wanting to place blame somewhere. It has also become common practice to shame others for not living up to certain expectations. There is a far-reaching disconnect between us on a grand scale.


Trauma Isn’t Always Obvious


There are multiple facets of trauma that we could consider, the ACEs being one of them that is easiest to wrap our brains around, perhaps.  But when we consider the subtler neurological development and attachment development aspects of trauma (which we discuss at length in our trainings, especially the Fundamentals of NL), there are likely many other ways this young man’s brain and body were traumatized.  

We can only speculate at this point, so I won’t go beyond a general wondering – but based on the little history we have now, we might hypothesize that the intrauterine experience and early childhood experiences of this young man may have contained significant amounts of stress, or at least numerous deviations from the optimal. His brain and body may very likely have been primed for survival, with muscled up and disorganized lower regions of the brain. Survival is inherently selfish, and sees threat at every turn.


This can happen to any of us


With the amount of conflict he experienced in his home life, later followed by the amount of distress he experienced in his peer groups – I truly wonder if connection, and relationships in general, mostly set off alarm bells throughout his system, feeling like threats rather than safety.

I will stop there, as I do not wish to speculate further about the story of a young man I didn’t really know – who was in so much pain, who was so alone, he turned to inflict devastating pain on others. Now his trauma has been passed on to the families of Uvalde – so many more ACEs to add to the list. Parents, teachers, families, neighbors, will never be the same, perhaps for generations to come.  

As hard as it can be to find, being trauma informed means I can catch enough of a glimpse of this man’s world, and the lens through which he saw this world, that I will not call him evil. I will not call him “other”. I will grieve him as I do the children and the ones whom he killed. I will grieve the isolation, the fear, the pain, that everyone in that community, and countless communities across the country, are feeling.


Finding Hope


And, I also have hope – because I know there are thousands of us out there working tirelessly to prevent and heal trauma Every. Single. Day.  

I know this community in particular, of Natural LIfemanship professionals, understands that trauma is a beast, but one that can be prevented and healed. So, we grieve. And then we roll up our sleeves and go back out into the world to do what we can, here and now. This will likely mean policy change, holding leaders accountable, and a dedication and perseverance to penetrate the helplessness and apathy that occur on a grand scale.  

And, we do what we can in the small choices we make every day.

We connect with those who need connection. We reach out when we need connection. We don’t look away. We don’t pretend the answers are simple. We don’t let fear drive us. We take a deep breath. We let fear and grief move through our bodies. And then we remember that healing takes place in the context of a healthy relationship…and we know how to do that. 

The hard truth, the utterly simple and yet excruciatingly difficult truth is that we prevent things like mass shootings, suicides, and violence by being the village that loves the child.

To honestly call ourselves trauma-informed, we must find our way to embodying this truth.

I only wish this particular child had been surrounded by the amazing hearts and minds that I know belong to this astounding Natural Lifemanship community. Maybe then he would have felt the warmth of his community that he truly needed, rather than pass on the pain, like so many others.

I feel hope because I know you all are out there. I feel renewed passion in our mission here at Natural Lifemanship. Pain may be inevitable in life, but the lasting effects of trauma can be tempered. Connection prevents and heals pain over and over again. It is not always easy – in fact, loving through fear, grief, and anger may be the most difficult thing we do. But we can do it.  

This is something we can control.

Sitting with you in grief, and holding onto hope. 

In connection,


If you feel called to learn more about how to help people heal from the effects of toxic stress and trauma,  join our amazing community of helpers and healers.

Natural Lifemanship is composed of people just like you, who want to make this world a better place —a world where connection and the value of healthy relationships is seen and felt in everything we do!



Just Released: Nourished by Meg Kirby

We are so pleased to announce that our Natural Lifemanship team has been published again! 

A lovely new resource is now available for a variety of practitioners – Nourished: Horses, Animals & Nature in Counselling, Psychotherapy & Mental Health, edited by Meg Kirby, is out now!



Not only do we share our lives with nature and animals, they are an integral and influential part of our well-being. Within the pages of Nourished is wisdom collected from respected professionals across the globe (of whom we are honored to be a part!) on how we can intentionally incorporate the natural and animal world into mental health, wellness, and personal growth.


Working With Horses to Develop Secure Attachment


Natural Lifemanship’s CEO and co-founder Bettina Shultz-Jobe and  I are thrilled to have contributed a chapter in Nourished titled “Working With Horses to Develop Secure Attachment”. In this chapter we offer theory as well as a case study discussing how attachment wounds can be brought into awareness, gently explored, and healed through authentic engagement with equines.  

We ventured not only into the cognitive aspects of attachment, but the embodied ones as well – for much of our relational patterns are held in the body. As this NL community knows, being in relationship with horses is a unique opportunity to transform ways of being, even when deeply held in the unconscious body.

If you are a practitioner in the field of equine assisted services, this is a chapter, and a book, not to be missed!


Psst…when you order the book through the links in this article, we earn a small affiliate commission. This transparency is important to us, but since we contributed to the book, you know we recommend it whole-heartedly!


Intentional Action in the Wake of Tragedy

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?

The Evolution of NL and What it Means for You

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!

A New and Improved Membership Means a Better Prepared 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. 

Licensed professionals *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.

Natural Lifemanship Terminology

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.

Netflix’s Queer Eye Experiences the Natural Lifemanship Approach

Recently, I was watching the inspiring Netflix series Queer Eye, a heartwarming reality show that focuses on supporting people in reconnecting with themselves. This year Queer Eye filmed in my hometown, Austin Texas!  Double joy!  

Not only did I get to see humans being good to humans, but they were my dear Austin humans! 

Imagine my excitement when on episode 7, “Snow White in Central Texas”, the Queer Eye team introduced us to an incredibly selfless woman named Jaime who runs an animal rescue, “Safe in Austin” – and lo and behold, one of the wonderful opportunities presented to her in the episode was a chance to participate in Equine Assisted Learning with a Natural Lifemanship trained professional!  Let me explain.

About the cast of Queer Eye

On Queer Eye there are five cast members, each responsible for a different aspect of the makeover process.  One of the cast members, Karamo Brown, a former social worker, always helps the guest of honor get in touch with the emotional aspects of the makeover.  

In this episode, Karamo took Jaime to a resort called Miraval, for rest and relaxation, as well as an equine experience with the talented Leigh Wright! Leigh has been learning with Natural Lifemanship since 2019 and her understanding of our approach is made clear in her facilitation of Jaime’s session.

A quick recap of what Natural Lifemanship does

At NL, we teach professionals a principle-based approach to Equine Assisted Services, based on the science of relationships, that can be integrated into their work with clients.

At the beginning of her session, Jaime was introduced to several horses and encouraged to feel into choosing which horse she wanted to work with. This is an approach NL advocates for, as it allows a real connection to begin to unfold between horse and human that is fully of their own making.  Rather than Leigh choosing a horse for Jaime, Jaime got to experience the emotional process of choosing for herself.  

Once chosen, Jaime and her horse entered a round pen in order for both to move freely while the two got to know each other.  

Freedom of movement is so important for both the horse’s and Jaime’s regulation, as well as a part of freedom of choice – a fundamental principle of Natural Lifemanship.  

Jaime and the horse both needed to be able to move into and out of proximity of one another in order to take care of themselves, regulate, and make choices.  Jaime described how in her life she cared for everyone else, often putting herself last.  Leigh encouraged Jaime to practice “making a request”.  

What makes this unique to NL?

In Natural Lifemanship, making a request is the crux of the work.  While it is enjoyable and often soothing to be near a horse and ask for very little (except perhaps allowing petting!), it is when we decide to make a clear request that vulnerability enters the equation.  This is when we begin to really feel the sensations and emotions of what it means to be in a relationship.  

When we ask for something, we are allowing the other to have an impact on us, we are communicating a need, and have to wait for the response.  To do so, without assuming control of the whole dynamic, can feel daunting and bring up powerful feelings.  

As I watched Jaime navigate this truth for herself, I was struck by how impactful this moment can be.  Leigh offered kind and empathic support, while also observing Jaime’s difficulties to bring them into her awareness.  As they continued, Leigh also suggested that Jaime might try asking for space – using the word “detachment”.  Considering what I learned earlier in the episode about Jaime taking on the weight of the world and leaving her own care at the absolute bottom of her list – I thought this was another powerful insight from Leigh.  

Diving deeper into “connected detachment”

Jaime really did not want to ask for “detachment” – the word coined by Natural Lifemanship to describe the aspect of a relationship that requires some structure and separation, while still maintaining an internal sense of connection (rather than constant nurture and physical closeness). 

Detachment is often difficult for people (and horses!) because when we create space between us, we have to trust that our connection can still be strong.  Jaime bravely practiced this in her session, and with Leigh’s warm support, she was able to ask for space and still maintain a connection!  Confidence lit a smile on Jaime’s face afterwards!

In this small amount of time together, Jaime felt, in her body, what it meant to make a request of others and ask for space when needed – all without hurting the relationship she had begun with her horse.  It was eye-opening for her.  A beginning, of course, but a good beginning!

While Leigh has studied other models and uses her own blend of approaches, her integration of Natural Lifemanship principles into her work was a pleasure to see.  

Way to go, Leigh!!! 

You can integrate the NL approach into your life and practice

What we teach at NL is not a specific series of techniques or activities or interventions. Learning Natural Lifemanship means learning principles and the science of relationships so that you can integrate it into your practice in the way that best serves you and your clients.

Want to learn more about Natural Lifemanship and the principles used in Queer Eye? We would love to connect with you!  Registration for the Fundamentals of Natural Lifemanship opens soon!

Thank you, Leigh, for your poignant demonstration of an Equine Assisted Learning session!

Thank you, Queer Eye, for bringing the power of Equine Assisted Activities to the public!


Want to support the incredible work of Safe in Austin?

Please visit their donations page.

Paving a Path to Embodiment

                    “Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk”

“Practice what you preach”                                       

“Say what you mean and mean what you say”

                                                                      “Actions speak louder than words” 

“Put your money where your mouth is”


Idioms about the importance of being congruent in both speech and behavior abound.  

Our spoken words, no matter how sincerely we mean them, become untrustworthy when they are not supported by our actions.  

Similarly, our actions feel incongruent and insincere when they are not consistent with our intention and motives.  We have all been on the receiving end of an interaction that appeared or seemed intended to be helpful or friendly, but instead felt empty at best and manipulative or exploitative at worst.  Both our actions and our words, no matter how well intentioned, can leave us feeling confused and disconnected from each other if they are not congruent with our internal state of being, and can result in relational rupture.

Embodiment Defined 

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “embody” in this way: to be an expression of or give a tangible or visible form to (an idea, quality, or feeling).  

Embodiment entails a sense of internalizing and integrating a way of being in the world that moves beyond our way of doing or behaving.  Beyond acting as guidelines for behavior, embodied principles and beliefs become woven into the fabric of our identity and sense of self, and flow naturally into the ways in which we connect with self and others, both human and animal, and the larger world, including nature and our conceptualization of the divine.  

We can sense the difference when someone is “acting kind” as opposed to “being kind.”  Kind acts can be done for a variety of both honorable or self-serving motives. However, experiencing true kindness from someone who embodies the truth of their character in serving and caring for others because this is who they are engages our limbic system in an entirely different way and offers a rich relational opportunity for connection on a level so deep and healing that it is felt at a cellular level.  

This kind of connection requires genuine presence, being in this moment and being with yourself and the one who is in front of you. We try in various ways to derive “being” from “doing,” but “doing” actually flows from our “being.”  

WHO we are shows up in WHAT we do and HOW we do it.  


A society of task managers

In our task-focused, accomplishment-driven society, our obsession with productivity and output leaves little room for the rich, satisfying, deeply healing experiences of connection that are only possible when we slow down and focus our complete attention on this interaction at this moment with this being, whether horse or human.  

When I work with a client in the round pen who is asking for their horse’s attention while preoccupied with the outcome, so focused on the task of getting the horse to look at them, or turn and walk to them that they have reduced the interaction to a project whose success is measured by achieving a certain behavior, the principle of embodied connection is completely lost in the transactional nature of this exchange.  

When the client shifts to a more genuine, present state, connecting with their deep longing to be seen and felt and valued, and sees and feels and values their horse as well, the change in energy is palpable.  The quality and depth of the connection available in this type of relational exchange defies language, as it is felt on a somatic level between the two as an energetic exchange.

Embodiment requires breathing and processing space. . .

 As a trauma survivor, I learned to “behave” appropriately in relational interactions by accurately assessing expectations and how to meet them in order to avoid rejection and abandonment.  When I was first introduced to the Natural Lifemanship model of Trauma Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, I approached it the way I did everything I wanted to learn about: in a cognitive manner.  I studied the model, memorized the principles and then practiced applying them in the round pen with horses in a task-focused, outcome driven way.  

It soon became clear to me that I could ask a horse to attach and detach from me without any true connection whatsoever.  I did not feel the warmth in my chest, or energetic exchange between myself and my horse that other people described when their horse connected with them.  I spent hours in the round pen practicing making requests for interaction and felt despair about ever moving beyond the behavioral stage of it “looking right” without it ever “feeling right.”

Then I took the Natural Lifemanship Intensive Training, which focuses even more on embodying the relational principles of this model.  I learned that the healing work we do with humans and horses is a way of “being” in the world, not only a way of  “doing.”  Embodiment requires breathing and processing space, which is why Natural Lifemanship trainings are designed in a combined video and live learning format that offers not only plenty of time to learn and master essential principles but also skilled and knowledgeable instructors to guide your learning by giving personalized feedback on the specific ways to practice these principles.  

To read more about my experiences early on with Natural Lifemanship read here.

The secret to success

Malcolm Gladwell popularized the “10,000 hour rule” in his book, Outliers, based on a research study that found it takes about 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials like playing the violin or learning computer programming.  A surprising nuance in this discovery revealed that it is not simply the amount of hours spent practicing but how you practice and who guides you in deciding what to focus on during that practice time that determines the level of success achieved.  This idea of “deliberate practice” under the guidance of a skilled teacher who is able to assess each student individually and outline specific steps to help them improve then tailors the time spent to focus on what would be most helpful for that student’s growth and development.  

How you use your practice time and who guides you is what matters most.  

I spent hours in the round pen doing the same thing over and over, getting the same results, until I received the personalized attention and guidance I specifically needed to let go of my task driven focus and learned to embrace and embody the principles and nuances of true, heart-felt connection.  I discovered the power of presence from trainers who embodied this with and for me so I could hone in on what was missing in my learning and start practicing in a way that actually led to transformational change. 

How the NL Intensive training can help you embody connection

The Intensive Training is set up to enhance your learning with guidance and support specifically tailored to the areas you want and need to grow.  It helped me refine my understanding of connection in relationship and led to powerful shifts in my perspective on my relationship with self and others, both horse and human.  

This is a powerful opportunity to take the next step in your journey of personal and professional growth!

Practice Embodied Connection at Home

To practice feeling a sense of embodiment through connection, try taking a walk with a trusted person.  Orient to your environment and do some mindfulness and grounding to become fully present in your body as you walk beside each other.  Then start to notice if you can fall “in sync” with your partner, matching their stride by sensing their movement without looking at them.  

Take turns lengthening your stride, speeding up and slowing down, and changing direction.  Can you feel these shifts without looking at your partner’s legs or body with your eyes?  Can you sense the energetic exchange between the two of you as you become entrained in your motion and your connection deepens through this rhythmic shared movement?  Be playful with it!  You can also try this with your horse or dog.

Want to learn more?  Attend our upcoming webinar on embodiment and sign up for the Natural Lifemanship Intensive Training!  Keep growing and learning with us.  

We look forward to seeing you!

Equine Assisted Services, Equine Assisted Therapy, Equine Assisted Learning, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy: What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

And be just as thorny….


Okay –  I’ll admit I added that last part to Juliet’s musings. She was obviously too lovestruck to think about thorns.


But seriously, names may be, well, nominal, but they do carry meaning and the way they are used can be consequential in both intended and unintended ways.


Here at the Natural Lifemanship Institute, we have been contemplating, discussing and discerning our response to the terminology debate initiated by the consensus document.* 


*Not sure what the “consensus document” is? We summarized and discussed the article in our blog published on April 16th, 2021. You can also find a link to the original article there.


As promised, we are ready to share our response and how we arrived at the choices we are making with respect to how we talk about what we do, and what we teach.


If you’re not familiar with the context for this discussion, please read our blog published April 16th, first. Keep reading for a summary of the recommendations in a nutshell. 


The Consensus Document’s Recommendations in a Nutshell


  1. Equine-assisted Services is the optimal unifying term when referring to two or more services. It is too imprecise to be used to describe one program or distinct type of service. Equine-assisted services include:
    1. Therapy services. Therapy is conducted by licensed professional therapists in any of these fields: counseling, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychotherapy, and speech-language pathology. Therapists should always use therapy-first language (e.g., physical therapy using equine movement, psychotherapy incorporating horses, occupational therapy in equine environments) when referring to their services.
    2. Equine-assisted learning is a subcategory of EA services inclusive of three types of non-therapy services conducted by qualified individuals. Recommended terminology refers to the context for learning: Equine-assisted learning in education, equine assisted learning in organizations, and equine-assisted learning in personal development.
    3. Horsemanship includes four types of non-therapy services delivered by qualified individuals. Recommended terminology refers to the particular sport or horsemanship activity: Adaptive equestrian sport, adaptive riding or therapeutic riding, driving, and interactive vaulting.
  2. The working group recommended discontinuing the use of imprecise, inaccurate, or misleading terminology, including: equine therapy, equine-assisted activities and therapies, equine-assisted therapy, equestrian therapy, hippotherapist, hippotherapy clinic or program, horse therapy, horseback riding therapy, and therapy riding.

See this illustration for the consensus document recommendations at-a-glance.


Our Response to the Recommendations


Our team at the Natural Lifemanship Institute first wishes to acknowledge those whose considerable efforts and participation in a lengthy consensus-building process culminated in the consensus document. Theirs was a laborious and much needed contribution to the field of human services incorporating horses. We couldn’t agree more with the need for precise and accurate terminology in our field, as suggested by the title of our aforementioned blog article summarizing the document. We agree with many of the recommendations that resulted from the project. We also have a somewhat different perspective on what makes terminology usage in our field problematic and what choices in terminology could be made going forward.


For those who prefer that we cut to the chase, we’ll first share our preferred terminology for services using the Natural Lifemanship (NL) process and for the professionals who provide those services. Next, we’ll share a little bit about our perspective on the subject of terminology in our field and our rationale for making the choices we are making in light of the consensus document.


What terms are we changing or adopting, in a nutshell? 


We are adopting the use of an umbrella term (TI-EAS) plus two other unifying terms (TI-EAT and TI-EAL) to distinguish categories of services. The image below depicts the relationship between the umbrella term, the unifying terms, and the specific term (TF-EAP) that represents the work of our founders and many of our students.


Definition of Terms


Trauma-Informed Equine Assisted Services (TI-EAS) – umbrella term for two or more Natural Lifemanship driven services that fall under the categories of therapy or learning (see below).


Trauma-Informed Equine Assisted Therapy (TI-EAT) is a unifying term for multiple kinds of therapy provided by qualified, licensed professionals. This includes mental health therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, among others. Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP) is one type of service included in the TI-EAT “bucket”. TF-EAP may only be used by licensed mental health professionals trained in Natural Lifemanship. We always recommend that in communicating with clients or potential clients, therapists should be even MORE specific about the work they do within their specializations.


Trauma-Informed Equine Assisted Learning (TI-EAL) is a unifying term referring to learning, personal growth, and wellness services employing Natural Lifemanship. This includes life coaching, energy work, education, and yoga instruction, to name a few examples. This also may include some of the types of work presented in the consensus document under the category of “Horsemanship”, for example, Therapeutic or Adaptive Riding.While many of our students enhance their therapeutic or adaptive riding programs through their learning with us, adaptive riding for those with diverse needs is not our specialization.


Equine Professionals


  • The consensus paper did not address the role of the Equine Professional (EP). However, we feel it is critical to address the scope of practice, expertise, and the role of equine professionals in EA Services. Equine Professionals are an integral part of the success of Equine Assisted Services – however, being an EP alone does NOT prepare one to deliver equine-assisted services, which requires professional preparation in one of the human services.  An equine professional who wishes to offer equine-assisted services must either partner with a qualified provider of a human service or they must gain the required professional preparation themselves.  While our trainings are very heavy on the relationship between horse and human, we hope to further address the specific development of an Equine Professional in future writing and programming.

How to communicate with clients using our new terminology


Is NL “Trauma Informed”  or “Trauma Focused”, or both?


The Natural Lifemanship Institute teaches a principle-based  and process-oriented approach to helping humans in partnership with horses. This principle-based approach is informed by the relational sciences, attachment theory, and the neurobiology of trauma and healthy brain development. 


We describe the NL process as being “trauma informed” because regardless of how or where it is applied (i.e., in therapy or in learning contexts), Natural Lifemanship is based on (informed by) the science of trauma and attachment. Trauma-informed approaches such as Natural Lifemanship may be employed for non therapeutic purposes. Somebody who provides Trauma Informed Equine Assisted Learning (TI-EAL) is not attempting to treat trauma therapeutically. However, they may apply their knowledge of the science of trauma to offer learning and growth experiences that are developmentally sensitive and that emphasize connection.


The Natural Lifemanship approach to incorporating horses in mental health treatment, or equine-assisted psychotherapy, is “trauma-focused”. It is informed by trauma/relational sciences and its focus may be on treating the effects of trauma on mental health. Mental health therapists (psychotherapists, counselors, social workers, LMFTs, etc.) who partner with horses based on the Natural Lifemanship approach are trained in Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP).


Why the changes?


The term TF-EAP is appropriate for some, but not all, people who practice NL. We have needed a more inclusive way to distinguish between EA services provided by licensed therapy professionals and those outside of the realm of therapy.


Since 2010, TF-EAP has been used somewhat synonymously with Natural Lifemanship. Reflecting the expertise of our founders, TF-EAP also applied to the vast majority of the mental health professionals and their equine professional partners who initially sought out our trainings. However, now, a dozen years later, the NL approach is employed by a wide variety of professionals who partner with horses to serve their clients, including occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, and physical therapists.  


Trauma-Informed Equine Assisted Therapy (TI-EAT) is a more inclusive term pertaining to the set of our students who are licensed to practice some sort of therapy. Similarly,Trauma-Informed Equine-Assisted Learning (TI-EAL) pertains to our students who are qualified to offer transformative growth and learning experiences, such as coaching and team building. 


One thing that has not changed is that we have always maintained that one’s scope of practice dictates what any of our practitioners may claim to do once they have been trained or certified in Natural Lifemanship. 


We agree with the consensus document that precision is important, that the appropriate use of unifying terms facilitates better precision when talking about specific services, and that specific services need always lead with one’s scope of practice. However we disagree with the suggestion that “equine-assisted” should never be used when referring to any kind of therapy. There is a place for keeping “equine-assisted” so long as it is not used inappropriately. One place we feel that equine assisted should continue to be used is in web-based material, which is found through queries in search engines. Without a recognizable, well-known, unifying term such as Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, many consumers and others engaged in keyword online searches would be unable to find the sites and the content that they are searching for. 


We also feel that it is helpful to consumers and other stakeholders to compare and distinguish different types of services by situating them within a larger context. For example, when comparing two different services one might want to know, does this service belong to the category of therapies incorporating horses or does this service belong to the category of learning and growth experiences incorporating horses? 


We feel the use of unifying terms such as Equine-Assisted Therapies (EAT) and Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) greatly helps consumers, researchers, and other stakeholders  find the services they seek and make educated distinctions between them. The terms are recognizable and parsimonious for the purposes of searching for and comparing services. When seeking potential providers, the unifying terms make it possible for consumers to narrow their search. It is then incumbent upon the providers to specify what, exactly, they provide based on their professional licensure and expertise.


From now on, when we use TI-EAT we are referring to multiple types of therapy in which providers may partner with horses, based on the NL approach, to deliver treatment. This means that somebody trained or certified in TI-EAT must be a licensed therapist and must have undertaken a certain level of professional development with Natural Lifemanship. TI-EAT includes occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and other kinds of therapy, while the more specific term, TF-EAP, is a subtype of TI-EAT and is limited to psychotherapists and other licensed mental health clinicians.


TI-EAL continues to represent the types of learning and growth experiential services incorporating horses using the NL approach. Again, practitioners who claim to be doing TI-EAL must be trained or certified with Natural Lifemanship. 




In conclusion, we hope that our response leaves the reader with a clear understanding of how Natural Lifemanship uses terms, why we support the consensus document’s recommendations for leading with scope of practice, and also why we feel that precise and accurate terminology is necessary but not necessarily sufficient when there is considerable ambiguity around scope of practice in our field. We need to hold ourselves accountable to a higher level of professionalism in this regard.


To reiterate our position with respect to the consensus document recommendations, we are in agreement with the proposed terms relevant to therapy and learning, with one exception: we propose using equine-assisted therapy (EAT) as a unifying term for the types of therapy identified in the therapy category. Just like the unifying terms, equine-assisted services (EAS) and equine-assisted learning (EAL), equine-assisted therapy is not to be used singularly to label a specific kind of therapy. It is simply a more precise unifying term for the category of services in which qualified therapy professionals incorporate horses within their scopes of practice. 


Finally, we feel strongly that there is a need to explicitly address the role of the equine professional within equine-assisted services. It is important to define their scope of practice and the kinds of knowledge, skills, experience, and specific training or preparation they must have to effectively co-facilitate therapy and learning in partnership with horses. Look for more from us in the future on this topic. In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about the role of the equine professional in Natural Lifemanship-based services, we offer a short course, which you may purchase, here.


About Natural Lifemanship


Natural Lifemanship (NL) is a developmentally-informed, trauma-, and attachment-focused approach to developing and strengthening the human and mammalian capacity to connect. Our TI-EAT and TI-EAL trainings and certifications teach a process for building relationships with horses and integrating horses into equine-assisted services in ways that promote healthy connection for both human and horse. Through intensive training and mentorship, the Natural Lifemanship Institute’s certification program prepares professionals to apply the NL approach into one’s scope of practice. Natural Lifemanship emphasizes relational and developmentally-informed principles rather than techniques, and offers personalized support and mentorship at every stage of the certification process.


Interested in learning with us?


Registration for the next Fundamentals of Natural Lifemanship training opens January 12th!  This is our most entry level training and is required for all certification paths. We hope you can join us!