Equine Therapist to hold public demonstration October 23 in Geneseo
Megan Sundeen has some big co-workers when she enters the arena in the barn at Beleziare Farm, north of Geneseo. Sundeen is an Equine Specialist and her co-workers are sixteen hundred pound horses. Their mutual task is to provide alternative therapy for veterans, first responders, healthcare workers, teachers and youth who may not be comfortable with or respond to traditional psychotherapy.
She will be offering a demonstration on Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning at Belezaire Horse Farms, 13081 N. 2550th Road in Geneseo from 1:00 to 3:00 PM Saturday October 23. This is a new location for Sundance for Our Soldiers.
Sundeen emphasizes that no horseback riding or previous horse experience is necessary for the hour sessions she facilitates. "A horse is a prey animal, its' eyes are positioned so that it can see nearly 360 degrees. Its choices are to fight, flight or freeze when feeling threatened." She indicates that these are what makes them sensitive to their surroundings and able to collect cues from a client on his or her emotions. The horse has the tendency to mirror a client's behavior, physical movements and emotions, and through the Equine Specialist or a counselor, helping the client understand better their own issues.
Clients who have not done well in traditional therapies often do better in EAP. Horses are non-judgemental and unbiased. They provide feedback and mirroring, and their behavior can be a metaphor for real life situations, and with the help of a specialist, can draw correlations and suggest ways to help them work out their own issues.
What led Sundeen into this line of work was the relationship she had with her father, a Korean war veteran who also suffered from undiagnosed PTSD. It was his relationship with horses that helped him to cope and were fundamental to his mental health the rest of his life. He worked with horses much of his life, training riding horses, racing horses, and even operating a riding stable in Geneseo for a period of time, until Parkinsons ultimately made it impossible to continue.
Sundance for our Soldiers is a local non-profit that provides EAP and EAL services for struggling clients who may be having trouble coping, or not making progress with talk therapy. Anyone wishing to volunteer or donate to Sundance for Our Soldiers is encouraged to contact Sundeen at Sundanceforoursoldiers@gmail.com, or call 309-945-7257. SOS is also currently looking for volunteers to serve as board members, grant writers, mental health professionals and directors.
Sundeen also does Equine Assisted Learning for groups and individuals, providing insights into personal growth, team building, conflict resolution, self esteem and a host of other skills through the eyes and mind of her larger than life co-workers. All sessions are one hour, unless group sessions, which are two.
Sundeen is a Geneseo native, currently lives in Kewanee and is a certified teacher.