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Mar 28, 2013

Horses as Counselors: The Importance of Continuing Education

It’s March Madness time!  For most, this means college basketball and tournament bracket pools.  For some, it marks the end of the Canadian government’s fiscal year.  For a select few, it refers to the breeding season for the European Hare.  (Can you tell that someone has been on Wikipedia?).  For me, however, March Madness 2013 means attending a plethora of professional conferences.  In fact, I just returned from the annual American Counseling Association Conference & Expo in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The week prior, I traveled to Franklin, Tennessee to attend the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association’s annual conference in the United States (they also have a European conference in Belgium this year). 

I was impressed with both conferences this year.  In addition to a having a nice tour of the Midwest, I met some great people and received an abundance of new information and ideas to implement in my practice.  This made me realize just how important continuing education is in our field.  In order to stay fresh and innovative, we need a regular dose of interaction with colleagues to find out what is happening in the rest of the counseling profession.  It is so easy to get caught up in the daily routine of practice that we miss out on opportunities for growth and improvement.  And you know what else?  I realized that I could also be a learning resource for others!  Who knew that not everyone practices Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy on a daily basis?  That realization added a whole new layer to my view of the profession and the direction I want to take in my career.  It also made me even more excited about this blog because I found out that people are interested in the subject of equine-assisted therapy and look forward to hearing my tales from the barn.  I really appreciate that!

I also learned that there is so much more to learn.  The ACA and EAGALA conferences were very different in format, but they both clearly drove this point home.  I am still a rookie in the counseling game and, while there is no bracket tracking my progress (I hope), my plan is to continue to keep an open mind and learn everything I can while utilizing every resource I have available to me at the local, regional, national and even world-wide level.  I encourage all of you to do the same.    

And now I have a herd of horses and people to attend to – they seem get their muzzles out of joint when boss mare is gone for too long! 
Lisa Krystosek is a counselor in St. Louis, Missouri. She specializes in Equine-Facilitated Counseling to help adults, adolescents and children improve their lives. To contact Lisa, please visit

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