Welcome to CEEL

All over the world equine facilitated human development is becoming recognised as a powerful modality for human transformation and wellness.

IMG_6637 (1)However, choosing an organisation that teaches you to become a practitioner of equine facilitated human development is not a simple task.  In an age where the new sciences are radically influencing our beliefs, behaviours, mental and physical health, and overall ways of being, it is important to consider organisations that have an on-going commitment to continuous learning, and integrate the latest teachings of human development into their curriculum.

In addition, the genuine elevation of the status of the horse to their rightful place as equal, sentient beings who are fully conscious and connected is necessary for the efficacy of this work.

CEEL’s commitment to continuous improvement

We regularly attend professional development trainings, workshops, and seminars, have personal mentors specifically in the field of trauma, and work with our own clients every day.  This enables us to test, refine, and assimilate the new material for inclusion in our cutting edge training approach.

CEEL provides a true paradigm shift from all other approaches

DSC05789The Centre for Equine Experiential Learning (CEEL) model can be distinguished from other approaches by it’s focus on coherence.  Other modalities tend to focus on what is wrong or not working, and initiate certain interventions (often uninformed) while the client is in a state of dysregulation.  In contrast, the aim of the CEEL model is to develop clients’ coherence and resilience.  Coherence is what allows the person to function effectively as a whole.  Supporting clients to move toward coherence helps establish more stability and greater capacity to negotiate challenges.  From this ‘resourced’ perspective, beneficial change, healing, insights, solutions and clarity arise organically.

CEEL teaches participants to observe the physical and emotional states of their clients and employ a ‘shepherding style’ of facilitation that aligns them with their naturally occurring trend towards increased coherence and well-being – a true paradigm shift from conventional approaches.

CEEL teaches how resolution and healing happens from the nervous system up and makes it possible to imagine freedom from discomfort, and for living an authentic, vibrant life in the here-and-now.

Horses readily support the CEEL approach

IMG_6619Since mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy horses all have functioning, coherent nervous systems, and in fact need them for their survival and ability to detect danger in their environment, they readily support the CEEL approach.  This is evidenced by their attentiveness, willingness, and contribution to support clients’ nervous system regulation.

CEEL can also be distinguished from other approaches by its:

  • Attendance to the autonomic nervous system – the stress response system.  It influences all the other systems in the body – specifically the cardiac, respiratory, digestion and brain.  When the nervous system is not coherent (i.e. dysregulated), it causes disruption in these and other systems.  In this state, the thinking brain is compromised, and problems cannot be solved.
  • Observance of neuroplasticity and how certain, timely interventions can support new, more beneficial patterns of thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours
  • Recognition of the horses’ contributions to achieve coherence, and work in ways that are yet inexplicable by conventional science
  • Recognition that the horses are truly equal – where their needs matter as much as the humans’ and are treated accordingly – outside as well as inside the client sessions
  • Understanding that everything is energy – which leads to interventions that effect beneficial shifts in thinking, emotions, beliefs, habits, and behaviours
  • Acknowledgment of the metaphysical realm and one’s capacity to experience non-ordinary states

CEEL is also:

  • Experiential – where one engages with the horses and reflects on the interaction
  • Somatic – where attention is drawn to one’s body and its responses and shifts
  • Trauma-sensitive – where care is taken to keep clients within their ‘window of tolerance’ while skillfully expanding their capacity for resilience and emotional regulation

Five areas of competency

CEEL identifies the main areas of competency required to skillfully and effectively run equine experiential learning (EEL) programs and help you develop these competencies in our training program.  Learning EEL is not linear – that is, it is not a straightforward process where one skill builds on another.  Rather, all of the competencies and skills required are interdependent – as illustrated in the diagram below.


CEEL 5 competencies diagram2-0Competency in facilitating equine experiential learning involves attaining proficiency in five key areas:

  1. Human development – how to observe relevant client behaviors according to a  clear map that allows practitioners to understand the nervous system state, and reveals what kind of intervention is most likely to support natural reorganisation.  Practitioners learn a ‘shaping’ paradigm of positive reinforcement and specific facilitation skills to ‘shepherd’ clients towards increased coherence and reslilience.
  1. Equine skills – includes horse psychology and horse-relationship and management skills, and specifically how to work with horses in this modality and recognise their contributions
  2. The CEEL model - includes the underpinning philosophy and guiding principles
  3. Self development – includes continuing personal growth and how this manifests in your facilitation
  4. Business development – Integrating your distinct orientation and expertise with the CEEL model to develop your unique business

The CEEL approach

“The approach must be ‘bio-neuro-psycho-social-spiritual’ …
we are required to be responsible stewards on many levels.
~ Leigh Shambo, The Limbic Path: Beyond Office Therapy

Our program provides a unifying theory and integrative approach to equine experiential learning and comprises a set of principles that guide the practitioner in facilitating human-horse interactions including frameworks for the learning / transformation experience.   Our interdisciplinary program has been inspired and influenced by a wide variety of people from diverse fields.

Not a ‘one size fits all’

Once coherence is established, clients are ready to move into deeper work with a greater capacity for resilience.  Since humans are complex beings,  when it comes to learning, healing, growth, or transformation, one size doesn’t fit all.  As facilitators, we need to adapt to the client’s specific needs and select a process that is most appropriate.

Examples of clients-0

The CEEL Model

The CEEL Model – distinguished by its attendance to coherence and resilience, and defined by its guiding principles – identifies six key processes for working with clients.  Within each of these processes is scope to further define the approach for certain clients and integrate the facilitators’ orientation, learning and life experiences.

CEEL 6-petal model3 with definitions-0

Body-centred, presence-based coaching

Horses are fully embodied and live in the present moment, so it makes sense to use a body-centred, presence-based coaching approach.  CEEL teaches you to be adaptive experiential facilitators for your clients to make sustainable, beneficial change.  The role of a CEEL facilitator is to assist and empower each client to more fully embody his or her authentic self while being in relationship with others through partnership with a horse(s).

More than a technique

CEEL facilitation is more than a technique; it is a way of being – in and out of the arena.  Since horses are highly sensitive, relational beings, we need to be fully aware of what we are ‘holding’ and what we bring into the horses’ space.  In a clinical setting it might be acceptable to ‘bracket’ our unresolved issues (e.g. where we ‘park’ the issue until later), but when we include horses, we have to apply to ourselves the same processes that we facilitate with our clients – and continually regulate ourselves in order to be fully and energetically present.

 In the CEEL community you are not alone

When you attend CEEL training, you automatically become a member of the growing, mutually supportive and resourceful CEEL community where knowledge and experience is readily shared, and creative solutions to challenges are explored.  You can call on the CEEL community for ideas, suggestions, and feedback to your questions and challenges, and learn about others’ experiences.