Trusting the Process

Therapy dogs for anxietyIn EAGALA (the evidence-based model of equine-assisted psychotherapy I am certified in and used in equine sessions), there are a few phrases taught in trainings. And like most phrases, they are ones we lean on and are a large part of the “EAGALA language” and culture. My favorite one is, “Trust the Process.”

EAGALA is a non-directive, client-led, strength-based model. It is very similar to Carl Rogers’ Client-Centered Therapy which happens to be my own theoretical orientation. Often when a client is coming in for session, we have a basic plan of what we want to ask/work on/etc. And being an ethical clinician, we always want to touch base on our goals.

But when we are utilizing a client-centered approach, we always follow our clients lead. Meaning, our “plan for session” often quickly goes out the window. Because it’s their session and they know what they need (to a degree). Often when this occurs, I mentally remind myself to “trust the process.” And in the end, I am always glad I do because amazing things happen that would have otherwise not occurred if I pushed my own agenda for someone else (even though we always have the client’s best interests in mind!).

“Trust the Process” is not only a phrase that guides sessions – but one that we can use to guide our daily lives as well. No matter how much we ruminate about situations, the fact of the matter is that it will not change the outcome. If we can let go and “trust the process,” we can liberate ourselves while simultaneously allowing what will happen to happen without driving ourselves crazy. In reality, we have control over so little. And honestly, do we want control over everything? Sounds like responsibility that I know I don’t know if I want!

The recent health crisis surrounding COVID-19 gives us great opportunity to practice “trusting the process.” We can be proactive in taking care of ourselves and our family and friends, but we can only do so much to control the outcomes we are seeing and the effects on our society and economy.

We at Blossom have switched to offering only virtual sessions as we do our part in ensuring mental wellness and safety, and helping you be your best selves while coping with everything going on and the feelings coming from dysregulation.

As a clinician who relies, utilizes, and believes in experiential therapies, this presented a challenge.

Could I still offer quality client-centered therapy, virtually? Absolutely.

Could I still offer art therapy? Probably.

Could I still offer animal-assisted psychotherapy? Not so sure..

A recent virtual session brought my client and I out to my bovine herd. Our cow herd is made up of 19 members, currently. I had ideas of how I could still incorporate animal-assisted psychotherapy but the outcomes were only revealed when I trusted the process. The entire herd trotted over, mooing, to the gate where I stood with my virtual session and Emmett. This has never happened before in all of my interactions with the herd!

This led to the exploration of “what does trust look like?” As the herd, some weighing upwards of almost 1000 pounds, interacted with my client and I – the concept of trust was displayed right in front of us. This fueled a full discussion about trust, who is trusted, what it looks like, trust being reciprocal, etc. The whole topic was only explored further after the client stated that the “cows came over because they must trust me.”

If I hadn’t trusted the process, this never would have occurred. We wouldn’t have gotten to explore “trust” using opportunity of the my 19 bovine co-therapists (plus Emmett, of course)! Wow – what an amazing moment! If we can let go of control and trust the process – how liberating would that be?

Therapy dogs for anxiety

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