Our innate capacity to adapt to our needs and changes in the environment is a core survival trait. We need to pay attention to the signs and signals that our human animal body is sending us because incredible innovation comes out of crisis. It’s about resilience, adaptability, and what natural part of us drives pivot and change.
My shift from a traditional therapy practice to providing leadership, culture and well-being programs at my ranch, with my horses and other herds, is one of those examples. I had a successful and thriving clinical practice in a typical office with a waiting list for clients. But something in me felt like it wasn't enough. I noticed feeling personally and professionally constrained.
Something was missing from the office setting. I would open all the windows and go outside in between sessions. I wanted to move and needed space. At first, I thought something was wrong with me. That I wasn't happy at work. It was a pressure inside of me that I could feel.
But I realized being outdoors, in nature, and with animals had been a part of my life forever. That’s where much of my learning and healing happened. Yet, it wasn't part of my work. So, I started to bring my dogs to my office and that was long before it was even fashionable to have emotional support animals.
I also came from an alternative kind of family—a hippie family. So, I also wanted to present myself as a polished professional. I worried if I moved out of my therapy office with the diploma and license framed on the wall, that I was letting go of what validated my work.
Ultimately, I realized the human development piece and the therapy I provided needed to take place at my ranch, in nature and with the horses. I had to push beyond my fear that this wouldn’t be accepted or would come across as too weird.
I knew the animal piece was essential to the kind of work I wanted to do because it had been essential to my own healing and growth process. After moving to my ranch, I was completely transformed. I knew that by having ranch experiences here with my animals that some of those same transformations would also be possible for my clients in their human groups.
My mistake was not doing it sooner. Not being brave enough to say I need to do things differently. It took a while, and it was painful for me. If I had been able to make that transition sooner and really owned who I was and am, I could have done better work faster. By expanding my scope and broadening my work beyond traditional therapy, I’m reaching more people – including those who wouldn’t normally seek out help.
Don’t ignore your human animal body and what it’s trying to tell you about your needs.