The long-awaited VETS curriculum is finally done and we couldn’t be more excited!! This program has been in development for over 5 years to make sure we got it right. This amazing resource includes three different curricula in one book. The book also includes information on our facilitation methodology, lists the results of our research over the last few years working with veterans and includes our latest project to develop a set of core skills that a veteran of the first responder needs to be resilient to the traumatic experiences that come with their jobs. Designed in the spirit of the 40 developmental assets from the Search Institute, this set of core skills is the result of countless hours of interviews with our veterans and first responder clients on what they need to be successful either in their transition after service or recovery after a traumatic experience. The core skills will the subject of our next research partnership with the Center of Excellence.
The first program is designed to work with veterans and first responders for 10 weeks one-on-one using natural horsemanship methodology. We have taken our combined experience and pulled best practices from many of the natural horsemanship trainers and threw in our own spin. We have found that this structure gives those who are most vulnerable a platform to channel their inner warrior and learn how to negotiate a relationship with a horse discovering their own voice. They learn how whisper can be effective in conversation when you know how to speak the language. It targets so many of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress without overwhelming them or asking them to process the past. Instead, we take the learning approach and focus on what they need to be successful in the future from the inside out.
The second program is also 10 weeks and is designed for groups and moves them through a similar set of life skills but in an experiential group format. It is suggested that there be at least one facilitator and one equine specialist for a group. Of course, we include our signature “Dances” exercise to build a foundation of trust, self-regulation, and openness. We have been awed by the depth of experiences that come out of this activity and had to include it. The other activities are best for groups of 4 or 5 but can accommodate as few as two. True to our mission, each activity builds on a specific life skill.
The last program is a 5-week specialized program for first responders and veterans with chronic pain. The horse becomes a wonderful metaphor and support system for the folks in this program. It is highly recommended that this program has the support of a mental health professional or recreation therapist trained and credentialed in pain management.
Of course, if you have any questions about this resource, reach out to us by phone or email and we will be happy to help!
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