Sunday, December 27, 2015

Kids being helped by horses in Equine Assisted Counseling:

Equine Assisted Counseling can be so effective for a number of reasons.
The greatest cause of it's effectiveness is the bond factor that is right there at the core of us all. We need to bond and feel connected to others including nature and animals. When we learn to connect safely to an animal the ability to have safe human connections follows. 
The horse is a non-judgmental, feedback provider. They respond to our emotions, especially our strong ones like fear and anxiety and doubt.  The therapist uses this information from the horse to get to the bottom of what is going on with in the child. Feelings are sometimes hard to describe; the horse takes what is felt, but not stated verbally and expresses it for a person through it’s behavior. 
In this work we also find metaphors and people love metaphors! The horse is big; so are our problems, the horse ignores us, people sometimes ignore us, the horse needs a lot of care, people need a lot of care. These parallels are being recognized constantly in Equine Counseling.
Let’s not underestimate the power of fun and adventure. Being with the horse is enjoyable, it is even magical for a lot of people. It is also a perfect vehicle for increasing the ability to stay calm and regulate our anxiety quickly. We learn to be calm for the horse; what a powerful motivator.
Learning to manage and direct a horse is an incredible confidence booster.
In a traditional Cognitive Behavioral Approach Model a client who is struggling with believing in herself may be asked to list reasons she should have more confidence. In Equine Assisted Counseling the client would be asked to say these reasons out loud while leading a horse around a ring. The horse won’t follow the client if they don’t really believe what they are saying. As soon as the client truly believes in herself the horse will respond differently. 
These are different ways to interact with and relate to a horse according to  Dr. Kay Trotter author of “Equine Assisted Counseling” :
  • Tactile and touching: Includes grooming or giving the horse a massage. Interacting with such large animals empowers the client while increasing self-esteem and self-confidence. The rhythmic motion of grooming can also be soothing and calming for both the horse and client.
  • Verbal: The way the client speaks to the horse can reveal how the individual relates to other people.
  • Riding and groundwork: Leading the horse from the ground or in the saddle can provide insight into a client’s sense of power or helplessness.

Equine assisted therapy offers kids with emotional and behavioral issues a safe environment in which to work through issues of fear, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, poor communication and much more. By teaching the child how to work with and communicate with the horse, the therapist will be directly and indirectly teaching the child how to apply these same skills in inter-personal relationships and build upon their relationship with the “Self”.

For more information on Equine Assisted Counseling contact Tanya at

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Anger Can Be A Tool For Change

Anger, especially for women, gets a bad-rap.  Studies show that women do a great deal of tap dancing to avoid expressing anger.  We may feel comfortable enough feeling the anger, but it is not always clear to us women how we should express it.  Often, anger is disguised and shows up through tears, submission, withdrawal, self deprecation, even despondency. When our fuse is at it's end there may be a scene with shouting and blaming.  None of these responses are helping people harness the power behind anger.

Yes, anger is powerful.  That might be one reason why women are not comfortable feeling it.  Some people aren't comfortable with that sort of power.  Women are historically conditioned to be more pleasing and caring and thus don't "do" anger.  In Harriet Goldhor Lerner's book "The Dance of Anger", she explores why women collectively have this unfulfilled relationship with anger.  We live in a culture that doesn't value angry women and so we aren't taught how to manage or communicate this emotion effectively.  Women usually don't think anger is an acceptable feeling and strive to "rise above it".

True, screaming like an angry child doesn't usually work for adults, but when harnessed effectively anger becomes more about asserting oneself, righting a wrong, and reorganizing the balance of power.  When we work with our anger it can become our ally in our pursuit for fulfilling our needs.  Anger tells us when change is in order. When an individual attends to their anger with respect and acceptance it can be one of the most motivating, life altering states of consciousness.

Here are four steps to take in order to make anger more effective in your life...

To begin with, try taking a breath and consciously recognizing that you are angry.  Allow yourself to be okay with simply feeling the anger. 

Next, ask yourself what is making you angry; what is the belief behind the anger...this is harder than it sounds and takes some practice.  Rather than staying stuck on the view that a person made you angry, try asking what about this person has violated a belief or principle you have.  It is your anger; recognize that it is about you. "Anger is a tool for change when it challenges us to become more of an expert on the self and less of an expert on others" (Harriet Goldhor Lerner).  

Thirdly, take responsibility for getting your needs met. Affirm them to either yourself or verbally to the person with whom you are in conflict with.  Speak up before you build resentment.

Lastly, be prepared to confront. Even if you do it with the jitters or an edge to your voice.  You don't have to say it perfectly the first time; strive to make your position clear.  Feel free to phrase your dialogue with, "This is difficult for me to address, but"...

It can be helpful to substitute anger for an alternative variation like assertiveness when you are struggling with discomfort around feeling anger.  Remind yourself that assertiveness is a positive and accepted expression of anger.  This may help you become more comfortable with your experience around anger. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Artistic Soul

            I recently had the privilege of meeting an acclaimed poet. A neighbor, David Bottoms, the current “Poet Laureate” of Georgia honored our small neighborhood book club by attending our meeting. I came away from a lovely evening of poem reading and discussion with the affirmative reminder that the soul needs to express itself, and artful expression accomplishes this communication like no other media. The creative arts allow us to tap into the numinous nature of our soul. 
            Creative expression helps lay the pavers toward wholeness and connects us to that which is greater than our small ego consciousness. In my work I am always reminded of the healing power found within the arts.  Children, perhaps because they are still fresh from the Source of all Life, seem to need the arts like they need fresh air and love. They naturally tune into and are drawn to these forms of self-expression. When words evade us, visual art fills in the gaps both for communication and self-understanding. 
          Teenagers with their changing bodies, brains and worlds, seem to find such ease in exploring dance, poetry, music and art. They feel their emotions so deeply at this juncture in their lives. This can be quiet overwhelming for them. Art lends itself with ease as a means to express the torrent of emotions and helps teens to make sense of their changing experiences.
            It is as adults that we commonly abandon our creative selves.
This can often lead to melancholy, depression, and anxiety. As adults we still have so much to gain from our artistic pursuits. Our artistic impulses beckon us to attend to them and act on them, for these energies arise from secret springs within our unconscious. They give voice, however faint and mysterious to the inner spirit that is trying to make itself known to us. 

Tanya Kuschnitzky MA.Ed. LPC

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Tips on Co-Creating the LIfe you Desire

How much influence do you feel you have in your life?  How would it feel if you decided to think of yourself as a co-creator of your life story?

The concept of being a co-creator fills us with a sense of power and motivation.  It gives us a feeling that not everything is left up to chance.  It essentially means that you help to create what happens in your life.  There are other undetermined forces at work that shape your life, but you as a co-creator assist in molding and forming the events, like fingers in clay; to sculpt what you imagine.  

The ability to set goals, feel motivation and confidence is alive and thriving in those who have an internal locus of control (perception of control for one's own life and action).  A belief that the events in their life don't just happen to them by mischance but rather because of the choices they did or didn't make, provides people with a greater self esteem and less anxiety than those who feel that they have little to no influence on outcomes. 

There are times of course when life simply hands you a bunch of lemons and no matter how positive your thoughts and actions are there is simply no sugar to be found to remedy the situation. The idea of being an active co-creator even under the sourest of times can give us the courage it takes to continue to live your life with curiosity and vigor. You have done the best you could do with the information you had and it's best to move on with a new vision; lemons and all.  Just as bitters in the herbal world are healing, bitter in life can be transformational for us emotionally.  

Disappointments in your results as co-creator of your life will naturally happen. Our plans and goals have a way of changing in mid air. As you mold the clay of your next venture you may start out thinking that you are sculpting a magical unicorn and instead end up with a tea pot; however at least your tea pot is functional.  In other words, although the tea pot isn't exactly what you set out to create, it still serves a purpose and it's presence in your life is there because of your own efforts.  

Positive affirmations and positive imagery are affective tools to help hone in on your own power of positive planning in an effort to bring about shifts toward goal fulfillment.  There are many contemplative co-creating exercises that can be utilized in helping someone to get clarity about what they long for. Clarity is important to assess where you are in your life path and where you would like to be.
Working with the concept of acting as a co-creator brings a personal vision closer to manifestation. Some suggestions besides affirmations and visualizations are creating collages, or dream boards, music and poetry.  Other creative endeavors such as patch work quilting, painting, etc. can be done with the intention of focusing on what you want to create in your life; be it love, health, success. Repeating a mantra throughout the day or prayerful visualization are other ways of tuning into what you want and allowing for gradual manifestation. Gratitude for what is going well in your life is a good place to start in order to generate the mind frame of acceptance and an open heart for the future.  

For personalized, therapeutic attention on enhancing your co-creating strengths call Tanya Kuschnitzky MA.Ed., LPC for an appointment at 404-702-8474.