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Grief, Horses & Healing

Since opening my coaching practice seven years ago, I found most of my clients come to me because they feel lost or stuck in their current life. They feel the enormity of the heaviness from sadness that comes from the loss of loved one or something significant, past trauma or abuse.


I understand on a deep level that feeling of being in a dark hole; not knowing how to get to the top nor how to even see the light. I remember feeling incredibly depressed while my first husband was in the throes of his addiction. I remember going to my doctor and asking for something to help me feel better. Being an enlightened practitioner, she told me that what I was feeling was situational and I should probably talk to a professional who could help me process that heaviness that was my life.


I had been in therapy a number of times with my first husband and as an individual. I believe that talking with a professional in times of enormous stress or sadness is incredibly beneficial. It wasn't until I found the program Touched by a Horse (TBAH) did I know how a coach and a horse could make such a profound impact on my life and now on my clients.


My first coaching certificate is in Equine Gestalt Coaching by TBAH. This method is based on gestalt principles, is experiential in nature and offers lasting results. The horse is considered as an active partner in the coaching process and the method has been studied with proven efficacy.

In 2010, before my second husband passed, I opened my dog grooming business but was still interested in creating a new career with my horses—other than giving lessons—which I did for years. I completed a few equine related judging programs which I loved but found that it wasn’t feasible to consistently travel and take care of my farm and four-legged friends. In 2012, I received an email from TBAH offering the program. I did my research and was thoroughly intrigued. I signed on and began the amazing journey of learning about how I could partner with my horses while helping humanity.


I always had an interest in the social sciences and psychology. I had taken many Psych classes in both my undergrad and graduate studies. The thought of combining my interest in psychology and my true passion of working with my horses was a perfect route to take. So, for the next few years I did the intensive coursework and required travel around the country to do the on-site-hands-on ‘Core’ work…where the beautiful healing takes place.


Every student must do their ‘own work’. You need explore your healing, your past wounds, your pain and begin to really understand yourself better before you can help others. As the student you go through the same self-discovery and path that I now, as a coach, walk my clients through. As I mentioned, I had been through a lot of therapy with my first husband and on my own, but this process helped me to unravel and heal some unfinished business.


I was able to process more about the enormous loss in my life; the loss of both of my parents, my two eldest brothers, a dear friend, both of my husbands, several in-laws, and countless four-legged friends. I was able to work through the heaviness and fear of being alone again at the age of 51 and the struggle of being a caretaker with my second husband through his battle with cancer. I was able to revisit my enormous struggle of being a wife and single mother of my young daughter while also caring for my mother, working full-time, and attending law school at night all while being in the horror of my first husband’s five-year demise from an addiction. I was able to walk back to my childhood and clear up any disappointment that was hanging on. I was able to process some of the post-traumatic stress that I felt after my daughter’s critical car accident when she was 16. I am sure there was more but so much of this was cleared for me.


This was not traditional ‘talk’ therapy. This is where I was able to witness and feel the power and profound healing from the majestic equine. This is where gestalt takes you to feel the intense somatic emotions in your body, the release, and the beginning of feeling whole again.


I will never forget the first ‘core’ I attended in Arizona. I was not clear what would be happening but went with a bit of skepticism, an open mind and heart. The first time I watched the horse do his incredibly intuitive work on an individual, the tears ran down my face and continue to do so each and every time I sit in witness of the healing process. I was stunned and amazed and began to understand the beauty of what was happening and the enormous release of that student’s ‘manure’. And, I was beginning to see, respect, honor and connect with the horse on a new and deeper level.

The picture here is when I was in Virginia at a core, and I did a piece of work around my enormous loss. I asked my mentor Melisa if she ever did a grief piece around cumulative loss. She had not but in the brilliance that is Melisa, she took it on. I had perhaps seven people on the other side at that time. Each of my fellow 'herd-mate' students stood in for those people and of course the beautiful horse supporting me (shown here offering her heart chakra) and healing energy through the process. I was walked through the process of the 'grief piece' with each of those loved ones - a feeling I will never forget! It was incredibly deep, spiritual and healing. I had not realized the depth of my grief from the loss of so many people and how much each meant to me, how much I missed them, how much I was still carrying on my shoulders. It was an 'out of body' experience and profoundly healing.


Horses are so highly intuitive, reflective, and are able to stay in a non-judgement state. They are not neurotic like humans in that they live in the moment. They really do not worry about the past (guilt or depression) nor do they look to the future (anxiety). Yes, of course they know when it’s dinner time and they certainly remember when a human has treated them poorly, but they do not sit in ‘worry’ like humans. The equine does not judge the client they are supporting. They do know, however, when the client is genuine and walking in their truth; and they know when and where in the body and soul that the client may be blocked, and they offer what is needed.


Since receiving my certificate from TBAH in 2016, I have worked on creating a program to support those in grief to help them heal their body, mind, and soul. I am also certified in several other areas including grief coaching and happiness training.


I have now witnessed the wonder and transformation of this work in so many of my clients. My clients have moved from feelings of deep loss and sadness to happiness and joy; moved through the deep healing from past trauma whether from sexual predators or other forms of abuse to feeling more peace; learned about personal development and now understand themselves on a deeper level; learned things about themselves and horses that were once unknown; now have a much stronger and connected relationship with themselves and loved ones; created new and brighter visions for themselves; and have found joy and happiness again. These clients each received what they needed from their own courage and bravery, the healing process and reinforcement from the horses, and from the support of me - their coach.


Through my program, women can find hope, joy, and possibility again (or for some) for the first time. I can support you via phone, zoom or in person.


You deserve to feel peace, whole and happy!!


To learn more or sign up for monthly helpful information, please visit my website @ www.donnacarlsoncoaching.com or you can reach me via email at donna@4healinghoofs.com.

"Donna changed my life with this beautiful healing experience....it’s like nothing you’ve ever done before...Donna works with you to help you heal yourself and does it with compassion and empathy like no one else....I highly recommend!"

AK


'I cannot stop thinking about our session...thank you so much...it helped me to get that all out...there was a lot of emotion' -- but the horses handled it with calm and quiet energy'🐴🙏💕

MR


'I had the honor of working with Donna's soulful horses. Donna was a kind and compassionate facilitator, and the horses offered their own individual versions of guidance and support. Each horse offered its own unique personality, gifts and insights for my healing. Through simple intuition I could understand what it is they hoped to share and guide me in during the sessions. Listen with your heart and you will 'hear' them too. Above all else, their intention was love- and who among us couldn't use a bit more of that in our day and on our life's journey?' Kellie


‘Donna coaches with amazing insight and confidence. Her style makes you feel safe whilst exploring sensitive unfinished emotional business. I can highly recommend Donna’s services.’

Wayne M - South Africa

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