by Julie Meyers, EGCM®, GCM®
Serenity Horse Coaching, LLC
Introduction: This is a comparative study of client outcomes between the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method® (EGCM®) and traditional talk therapy applied in a therapeutic setting with sexual assault survivors.
Significance: Many clients report experiencing significant therapeutic gains at the conclusion of a singular EGCM® session in comparison to protracted periods of talk therapy. This anecdotal information suggests that the EGCM® is significantly more effective than talk therapy in the treatment of sexual assault trauma.
Purpose: The purpose of this capstone project is to juxtapose multiple clients’ EGCM® experiences, with their previous talk therapy sessions, as they relate to healing the embodied trauma of rape. This comparison is intended to further accentuate the efficacy of the Method and its therapeutic contributions to this population.
Setting and Participation: The coaching sessions occurred at Windy Creek Ranch located in Boulder County, Colorado. The demographics of the population studied included women between the ages of 24-55, who are survivors of rape. The sample size for the project was five participants.
Capstone Description/Process: This author was the sole provider of the coaching sessions. Every client in the sample, either during their EGCM® session or later by phone, said that they had experienced voluminous therapeutic insights during that one session in contrast to years of talk therapy. The specific techniques used were many: hearing foreground and looking for background, asking open ended questions to take a client deeper, giving the client the opportunity to speak out-loud their truth about an event to the person who needed to hear it when they were a child, in the same voice and intensity that feels true to them, and a body release of either anger or sadness in order to release the trauma from the cells of the body which have been locked there for years. With each client, we ended up back at a time in their lives where they were raped. The dots were connected for each client, between past trauma, how it plays out in her life today, and what she can do to move forward, via a somatic journey of the body and mind.
Capstone Results/Impact: The clients’ self-reported outcomes with the use of the Method, in comparison to traditional talk therapy, suggests that it is more efficient and effective in achieving desired therapeutic gains. The Equine Gestalt Coaching Method® has become a local source of recovery for women who have lived with the effects of childhood sexual trauma. Many have come to me specifically for this reason, based on referrals.
Capstone Evaluation: Each of these sessions ended as huge, full body, anger releases directed at their rapists, leading to new awareness for each client. There was always something really specific to each client, contained within each session, that had never been known on a conscious level, which led to a profound, life changing “aha” for each of them. Each woman expressed to me that with their talk therapists they had talked about the rape, so they didn’t understand why there was still an aspect of it that was interfering with their lives in the present. The Equine Gestalt Coaching Method® has been validated as trauma informed, and allowed each client to process and heal from their rape on a cellular level. The combination of the somatic release plus this new awareness provided transformation and healing that talk therapy was never able to do.
Future Directions: This author is in the process of forming a relationship with Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA), who supports individuals who have survived sexual trauma. The goal is to run groups specifically for female rape survivors who approach MESA for healing their complex trauma. As a survivor of childhood rape, this author knows the power and efficacy of this method to be transformational.
Acknowledgements: Much gratitude and love to Melisa Pearce for serving as a role model and mentor; Marsha Bressack for guidance and support; My equine partner Cowboy; My EGCM® colleagues for their continued support.
Manzione, J., Manzione, GT. (2019-2020). Validating The EGC Method® as a Trauma Informed Modality. Elizabeth, CO. Touched by a Horse®, Inc
Matė, Gabor, (2004). When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress. Vintage Books Canada.
Pearce, M. (2019). What the Heck is Gestalt? Elizabeth, CO. Touched by Horse®, Inc