Why ROOTS Institute?
ROOTS Institute was designed with the understanding that all social animals (humans included), and birds, are psychological beings with a past – impacted by humans –that influences their present and often, their future. The ROOTS Institute dictate of "doing no harm" is equally held for client, nonhuman animal, and facilitator.
At ROOTS Institute benevolence is valued over horsemanship, mutual benefit over unidirectional control, emotionally intelligent leadership over negative reinforced dominance, teaching and learning over training, and contemporary science over long held tradition.
ROOTS Institute is purposeful not to "use" nonhuman animals, seeking instead to embody a commitment towards actions that provide opportunities for equal well being for every animal, in every session. Unique in the field of animal/equine assisted self development/therapy certification, ROOTS Institute facilitators are trained in a nature based, interdisciplinary social science approach that directs our understanding and application of trans-species psychology, neuroscience, ethology, and ecology within inter-species relational experiences. In this way, ROOTS Institute shifts the paradigm by building a foundation for changing long held human beliefs, habits, and supremacy, empowering ROOTS facilitators to work with other animals as equal social brained partners –employing the science to improve the lives of humans and nonhumans alike.
Our species has been intricately connected to other social animal species from the time we showed up on this earth. Our very survival as a species has depended on their friendship, protection, their ability to do the heavy lifting as we crossed continents and waged battles, and they sacrificed their lives to feed and clothe us. At one time, our relationship with other species was rooted in a deep and abiding respect and reverence for the roles they played on their own behalf as part of the natural world, as well as within the collective human community.
Before speciesism, before behaviorism, before we industrialized the exploitation of nonhuman animals for food, entertainment, and recreation, before humans believed we belonged at the apex of all that exists, humans lived collaboratively within the web of life on earth. ROOTS Institute is dedicated to reconnecting certification students and our clients with those roots of mutual respect, agency, and equality. At no time in our history has our re-wilding been more timely and important to our species and theirs.
The field of animal/equine assisted healing services has been guilty of perpetuating a narcissistic narrative around our work with other animals for the “betterment of humans.” We have talked for them, put them on spiritual pedestals, dominated and enslaved them, marginalized them, made their existence a metaphor for human experience and explained that their purpose in our field is to be a mirror for human emotion. In addition, the field has adopted, from competitive and recreational use of other animals, the idea, that what every horse, dog, chicken, or “other” needs, to feel right in the world, is human “leadership,” aka dominance… aka alpha…aka compliance.
From this perspective, we have justified the “use” of other animals without concern about the mental, emotional and physical cost of the many dreadful activities we put them through in order to help humans. ROOTS Institute was created specifically to address the concerns we have over how our nonhuman animal kin are fairing in this field due to the lack of agency they are afforded. ROOTS Institute is the paradigm shift our industry needs to be in integrity because we are not helping people if we are perpetuating the human –nonhuman animal hierarchy myth.
The efficacy of mutual social relationship between species can stand on its own merit, without human control or manipulation. ROOTS Institute remains the only animal/equine assisted training program in our field to teach that ethical work in this field must be based in the sciences; ethology, trans-species psychology, neuroscience, ecology, learning theory, mindfulness, somatic theory, social psychology, and trauma informed care. What applies to humans, applies to nonhumans. With this knowledge, ROOTS Institute practitioners safe guard the role our nonhuman animal family, friends, and partners play in the animal assisted services they provide.
We believe the path to healing generational wounds in all of our species begins with us remembering our right relationship with other animals and to learn how to challenge our enculturated ways of seeing "the other" as here for our use vs. being here for their own purposes. We believe that it is the very process of reconnecting our clients and students to this remembering, our re-wilding, that we find deep meaning and healing in relationship with nature and her inhabitants. We are at a time in our history where generations of humans have lost touch with the balance and groundedness that can only come when we step away from our busyness and the technology that accompanies it to reconnect with our roots in nature, and the peace we find in mutually beneficial relationship with other animals.
We are purposeful in how we honor the human-nonhuman animal bond, we are committed to changing habits and beliefs that cause fear or pain to others and justify human dominance. Every life deserves agency, care, nurturing, and the opportunity to be better off as a result of our experiences together...especially within the animal assisted personal growth and psychotherapy field of service.
If you believe as we do, if you are curious to learn more about the science and soul of working with people and other animals for the betterment of both, if you enjoy growing personally and professionally in learning environments that stretch and inspire you, if the call to be in nature, with nonhuman animals resonates deep in your bones... Join Us! Together we are making our field a better place for people and nonhuman animals equally.
ROOTS Institute Founder & Faculty Member