July 1, 2019Meet our Trainer Sandra Wallin
ANDRA WALLIN, BSC, BED, MA, RCC, DOCTORAL STUDENT
PRO-EFW TRAINER & MENTOR (MHP, EFLP AND EP)
EPONAQUEST AND POWER OF THE HERD INSTRUCTOR
INTERNATIONAL PSYCH-K® INSTRUCTOR
Growing up, it was my belief that the best fairy tales included horses of one kind or another, but as much as I dreamed of horses, having one of my own was beyond our means. Ever good at finding creative solutions for any NO, I always found a way to be with horses, in one way or another…
Today, all these years later, I still believe in fairy tales and in fact find myself living in one, with four horses who call me their own.
“Once in awhile, in the midst of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale…”
~ Mary Englebreit
Though I’d been learning from horses my entire life, I only started to share what they’d been teaching me in 1999. As a teacher and school counsellor, I was offered a grant to run an equine-guided program for students who had a hard time connecting socially while at school. Parents and teachers alike were struck by the changes in the students who’d spent time with the horses but the real magic was watching as they lit up at the barn, and how that brightness stayed with them even on the greyest of school days.
After the initial pilots, I was asked to create more programs for other populations; teens at-risk, children on the autistic spectrum, those with behavioural IEP’s and gifted middle school creatives.
The Sounds in Silence (click to learn more)
– how Grace helped a young boy with autism, connect.
Regardless of the population, the horses showed up, helping each child or teen emerge transformed, like a butterfly from a chrysalis. In turn, the students and the horses transformed me, guiding and shaping the philosophy and format of what we offer here at Chiron’s Way.
Though my scope of practice will continue to evolve, I believe I best serve this community when I share what I love the most, and most love teaching…
Horses and The Arts: Expressive arts and creativity certainly add infinite dimension to any equine guided program and…it’s okay to adore the combination for sheer delight, beauty and FUN!
Equine Assisted Belief Change (EABC): because this transformational process helps us support our clients and our equine partners at the same time, alleviating considerations like affect contagion in the horses while debunking the myth that change and growth is slow.
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
— Albert Einstein
In the beginning it became clear very quickly that simply talking about what was unfolding between the students and the horses barely scratched the surface. They were communicating in a language that went deeper than words; imagery, symbolism, movement, play… In order to help them integrate their equine experiences, I went back to the drawing board so to speak (my training as an expressive arts therapist) and brought out the paints! Since then, the paddock has been transformed into a kind of natural class/board room and creation studio, where horses, children, CEO’s and EFW candidates alike, come alive. The students in those initial school groups showed me what they needed from the field of EFW and what I humbly believe can benefit every EFW program, regardless of the population served.
WHY CREATIVE EXPRESSION?
Creative activities offer numerous benefits to health-care, educational and leadership programs including: stress reduction, relaxation, improved blood pressure, heart rate and respiration, heightened mood, optimism, and an increased capacity to communicate feelings, goals and intentions.
They are known to enhance brain function and structure, alleviate depression, and give rise to alpha wave patterns typical of the relaxed but aware state attained during meditation. They also enhance whole brain cohesion, which is an optimal state for learning. These benefits come not only from engaging in creative processes but also from exposure to works of art, peaceful settings and nature-based imagery.
The field of psychoneuroimmunology – the study of the interrelationship of mind, body, behaviour and health – has demonstrated that imagery may be an important factor in self-healing as illustrated by the studies of Larry Dossey, M.D., and others.
Florence Nightingale observed that beautiful objects, especially those with brilliant colours, had a palliative effect on her patients, soothing the mind and balancing the body.
Expressive Arts are so effective because they…
Have profound motivational and healing effects
Involve active learning, imagination and creative expansion
Provide a record of feelings, thoughts and actions that arise during sessions
Allow us to redefine, re-imagine and re-initiate choices and action steps
Fit naturally with equine guided learning, healing and development
Require NO artistic experience – it’s a promise
At this point in our evolution, when the images most available to us traumatize and numb, horses and the arts offer a welcome antidote. To be held in the embrace of a horse and then to dialogue with that experience through colour or movement or sound, plants seeds of transformation from which we can grow to new heights.
The Psychology of Change, the Biology of Belief
I became passionate about Belief Change Psychology after a riding accident left me unconscious and broken. Unable to get out to the horses, I began to use with myself, the processes I’d been sharing with clients. My healing progressed exponentially: body, mind, heart and spirit. As a result, I now integrate these transformational processes within my equine guided practice and programs, teaching students how to use their subconscious to become more horse conscious, and in turn, create and live the lives they’ve imagined, with their horses and beyond.
Over the last two years, at the request of Dr. Bruce Lipton, cellular biologist, author of the paradigm shifting Biology of Belief and beloved friend, I have also been teaching these powerful processes within a maximum security prison. We then travelled with our mutual friend Tom McCallum and Cree Sundance Chief, into First Nations communities where they are beautifully transforming historical and societal limitations, connected to the subconscious programs they, and we all, have been raised with.
I can’t say enough about how fast, efficient and honouring this modality is and because horses bring up our limiting belief like nothing else, and inspire our most beautiful dreams, it’s a powerful companion to bring with you into the round pen. It not only supports the goals arrived at within a session or workshop, but it ensures they are fully aligned with and supported at the subconscious level of mind, where most real and lasting change occurs.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: EABC – EQUINE ASSISTED BELIEF CHANGE >>
“If you want to get close to the horse, you have to get close to yourself. Then the horse can come to you.” ~ Carol Nichols
Have you ever heard it’s not about the horse? A few years ago, this phrase took on new meaning for me when Chiron got deathly sick. Though I’d prefer to have learned the lesson in a different way, those touch and go four days profoundly influenced how I share and teach EFW.
Here is what I wrote about the experience and how out of those terrifying ashes arose what I believe is a phoenix, for the horse and our wonderful equine guided programs. It asks that we, as their companions, students, co-therapists/teachers/coaches get close to ourselves, so they can come to us in connection and in health. I share it here because I believe this to be an invaluable consideration for all of us in the EFW field. Let me know if you feel the same…
Sandra Wallin has been learning from horses, in one way or another, her entire life, but it wasn’t until her horses Grace and Chiron arrived that her apprenticeship truly began. Sandra claims Grace has taught her to be a better person and Chiron is teaching her to be a better horse, and as she learns, so she teaches, in her Equine Guided programs at Chiron’s Way.
Chiron’s Way is located on a little piece of heaven some 40 minutes east of Vancouver, BC. Here you’ll find programs that empower perspectives and accelerate personal and team growth.
As a lifelong learner, Sandra’s scope of practice will continue to evolve, ever inspired by horses. She is a Horse Conscious Teacher, an Epona Approved Instructor and has Bachelor’s degrees in Science and Education, with a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology.
As a Registered Clinical Counsellor, educator, and presenter, her clients range from middle school students to corporate leaders, including teams from Microsoft and Nordstroms Having recently retired after 22 years in a local school district, Sandra divides her professional time between a private practice, and teaching locally and internationally. Her next equine-guided retreat will be in mythical Petra and is entitled A Journey of Wild Abandon >>
Sandra is a contributing author in Horse As Teacher: The Path to Relationship, and was also a feature writer in the Horses in Art magazine, writing about The Art in Horses: How Horses Help Humans Become Their Own Masterpiece.
“The greatest gift for me this year in attending Sandra’s EFW-Can training has been the re-igniting of my creative spirit. Through the combination of work with the horses and reflective arts I was able to re – connect with how much I love to create. As a goal oriented adult, I had forgotten the feeling I had as a child when I was able to connect to horses with no agenda or create art simply to reflect my inner being. love having that forgotten piece of me back !:) Thank you, Sandra :)”
~ Tina Slamka
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