May 4, 2021
Breaking the Spell
By Lori Riley
SHARON — The Equus Effect uses horses to help veterans, first responders, front-line workers and others who have experienced trauma.
May 4th, 2021
How Long Can Healthcare Workers Hold the Line?
During Mental Health Awareness Month, Experiential Learning Experts Advise It’s Time to Look Beyond Traditional Therapy
SHARON, CT / ACCESSWIRE / May 4, 2021 / The physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion frontline workers are enduring due to the pandemic is well documented. According to the ECRI Institute, suicide rates among doctors is 44% higher than the general population. 82% of healthcare workers report emotional exhaustion, 70% report trouble sleeping, 68% describe physical exhaustion, and according to MHA, 55% question their career path. These numbers add up to big trouble; for workers, providers, and patients. And now, hospital administrators state concerns over a possible 4th wave and how they can keep staff engaged, sharp, and avoiding deadly mistakes.
Jane Strong, SEP of The Equus Effect – an equine-assisted learning organization – says most of us are aware of the physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion frontline health workers have endured for the past 14 months. Still, few realize that they’ve been looking in the wrong place for relief. “Traditional talk therapy only goes so far. No one can persuade a person to not be exhausted or afraid. Until their nervous systems are settled, people can’t sleep, can’t feel confident, and certainly can’t think clearly.”
That’s where The Equus Effect comes in. For the past decade, the Connecticut-based not profit has been working with men and women who come from extremely high-stress environments. By employing experiential learning techniques, education through experience, clients are empowered with insights and tools that help them move beyond self-limiting attitudes and behaviors.
Although the practice may sound ambiguous, there is hard data to prove it works. The Equus Effect experts have graduated more than 1000 war veterans, first responders, and now frontline workers who vouch for the program’s effectiveness. A Sloan Kettering radiologist says this program is different. “It didn’t help me to dwell on the situation of losing patients in a support group. What helped me was to experience something that engaged all of my senses and gave me some tools I could share with my colleagues.”
Strong says that The Equus Effect teaches participants hands-on groundwork based on real horsemanship techniques, complemented by tools that build emotional and mental fitness for real-life situations. “Without addressing the body as well as the mind, nothing can change. Horses accelerate this process and directly impact clients’ ability to re-engage with renewed confidence and competence.”
About The Equus Effect
The Equus Effect is a proprietary experiential learning program where horses provide a bridge and safe passage to reveal the source – and solution – for both chronic stress and trauma. The mission is to provide veterans and others in high-stress environments with essential tools to meet life’s challenges and build healthy relationships through purposeful engagement with horses. Jane Strong, SEP, is The Equus Effect Co-Founder, Lead Facilitator, and Executive Director. For more information, visit theequuseffect.org.
Jane Strong, Executive Director
February 3, 2021
Listen in on Marshall Miles’ interview with Jane Strong, Executive Director and Co-founder discussing our program expansion that now includes front-line health workers – having been deemed an essential business last May. With the invaluable support from the Foundation for Community Health, we’ve been able to continue our work during the pandemic.
Jane speaks in depth on how much we’ve learned from the veterans we serve – in particular medics – which has helped us to understand the struggles of front-line health workers and give them the support they deserve.
September 12, 2019
at the drive-in, for
The Equus Effect
By Leila Hawken
SHARON — Bucking the trend of fundraising cancellations due to COVID-19, The Equus Effect in Sharon has instead reimagined its fall event, planning a gala fundraiser at the drive-in on Saturday, Sept. 12.
Updates & Resiliency Tools for Today
Good Day to You All,
We want to give you an update from our place in Sharon, CT and offer some additional resiliency tools to help you stay grounded, clear, and more equipped to handle the collective uncertainty we are now facing. (See more tools on our home page.)
First, the Update
Once this storm is over — and it is safe to re-engage in the community, we plan to offer our services to the docs, nurses and EMS teams who are on the front lines in hospitals and emergency services. Like warriors, they are in the midst of turmoil and chaos. Unlike warriors, they are facing this battle against an unseen enemy — sometimes without the tools to fulfill their oaths. We expect that the trauma and moral injury is going to come in waves, just as this virus has traveled around the world.
How does our work with veterans fit for these folks?
In a recent 60 minutes interview, Dr. Gul Zaidi of Long Island Jewish Hospital explained, “We’re all scared. I’m scared. But, I have to lock those fears away in a box because once I set foot in the hospital, it’s all about the patient.”
We at The Equus Effect know a lot about the cost of ‘locking fear away’. It is precisely what lands our veterans in the stuck situation where their nervous systems can’t settle down after the crisis passes.
In addition, like many veterans we see — especially medics — we expect to encounter professionals who are struggling with the moral injury that comes from having to decide who to save and who to let go. No one is ever really trained for that. As the dust settles, we believe that we’ll have our hands more than full.
To this end, we will also offer sessions to individuals who are having a hard time feeling grounded or moving forward and will keep you posted on the timing for that.
The Neuroscience Behind our Work
For those of you who are interested in the science of what goes on when we are having a hard time dealing with circumstances like this, here’s what’s happening and here’s why body-based, experiential programs like ours can help …
What’s happening: Trauma does not live in the thinking part of the brain. It resides in the emotional brain and the nervous system. It takes us from a parasympathetic (relaxed, safe, calm) state to one of sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) activation. That’s what’s happening to a lot of us now as we shelter in place and watch events unfold that are way beyond our control.
Why our work ‘works’: Our horses offer a kind of connection and attunement that is particularly impactful in terms of settling us down. Their heart rates are about half of ours so when we put our hands on them, our own hearts slow down. They also completely accept us as we are right now, not for what we may or may not have done in any other parts of our lives.
For more insight and information about how body-based practices and attunement are a tremendous antidote to trauma, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk’s highly acclaimed book The Body Keeps the Score is a great resource. Dr. van der Kolk is a friend and colleague whose understanding of trauma fits with and informs our approach. David Brooks refers to his take on the mental and emotional toll of this crisis in the NY Times on Friday, April 3rd. In case you missed it: Mental Health in the Age of the Coronavirus: The struggle between fear and comfort.
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— TOOLS TO RESET AND RENEW —
So, here are some things you can do to ‘reset’ yourself when your sympathetic nervous system starts to take over, and more important, some practices that will provide a reset plan when you’re not in those states. Being prepared is far better than waiting until you’re ‘hijacked’ by your sympathetic nervous system and inevitably, hijack others’.
Grounding in the Physical
Sit down, notice your hamstring muscles directly on the seat of the chair and then very deliberately and slowly, travel upward and push your spine against the back of the chair. As you do this, take a few breaths … in to the count of three and out to the count of six. This reminds your body and brain that you are supported, grounded, and that the parasympathetic nervous system is close at hand.
Like this virus, emotions are contagious. Before a call, a conversation or a Zoom meeting, wiggle your toes, feel your feet, and take one minute to inhale through your nose to a count of three and exhale through your mouth to a count of six. That’s all it takes to reset your own adrenaline and cortisol levels … and influence others’ reactivity.
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Meanwhile, if anyone has come across an interview or has a personal story that will help us gain a deeper understanding of what you or others are experiencing, please let us know. Or, if you have any questions or comments about these practices, you can reach Jane at: 860-364-9985 or Jane@TheEquusEffect.org.
We will continue to offer more tools and practices in the weeks to come. For now, our very best to you and to those you love.
The Equus Effect Team
April 14, 2020
Listen in on Marshall Miles with Jane Strong’s interview about trauma felt in our world today — and the correlation between the work we do with veterans and what we’ll have available for front-line hospital workers (and everyone).
Please feel free to reach out to Jane with any questions or topics at Jane@TheEquusEffect.org
September 12, 2019
The Saturday, Sept. 7, fundraiser for The Equus Effect had the largest turnout so far of any event for the nonprofit. The gala party and silent auction were held at the farm on Drum Road in Sharon of John Brett and Jane Strong, The Equus Effect Founder.
December 12, 2018
In learning about the rising suicide rate among veterans, Jane Strong and David Sonatore decided to focus their attention on this group of men and women who were sometimes resistant to talk therapy and whose symptoms were often only masked by medication … General Patraeus (Ret.) recognized this program for its soundness and sensitivity to these men and women who have served their country in this way.
Are you interested in helping us?
The Equus Effect® is a registered 501(C)(3) corporation. All contributions are 100% tax deductible.
IMPORTANT! WHEN USING WAZE APP, set destination to Sharon Town Beach, Mudge Pond Rd., Sharon, CT. When arriving, Drum Road is directly across from entrance to the beach.
The Equus Effect
37 Drum Road, Sharon, CT 06069
Main Office (860) 364-5363
Co-founder & Lead Facilitator
Chief Knowledge Officer
Co-founder & Lead Facilitator
Marketing & Communications Director
For general information: