ROOTS Institute

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    Pasture Masthead
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    Horses masthead

What is the 'Next Generation' of Animal/Equine Assisted Self Development Facilitation?

The field of human-nonhuman animal therapeutic interaction is growing rapidly. It is commonly and scientifically accepted that human beings benefit emotionally, mentally and physically from relationships with nonhuman animals. Horses and dogs are at the top of the list of animals that work with humans, traditionally for human benefit and without full consideration of the impact to the nonhuman animal.

ROOTS is part of a movement within the field that is integrating the latest science to expand our understanding of the consequences and benefits of human interactions with other species. ROOTS teaches and advocates for balanced, mutually beneficial therapy relationships, ethical treatment of all animals, a high degree of animal-welfare awareness, and the prioritization of mental, emotional, and physical well-being for both the human beings and animals involved.

The fact that we fully consider the consciousness and sentience of the nonhuman animals we work with is not simply because we consider it the most ethical approach--which we most certainly do--but also because we believe therapies applied with mutually beneficial goals are more profoundly effective.

When ROOTS Institute was in the forming stages our goal was to create programs that represent the next generation in how we educate human-nonhuman animal interaction facilititors. We surveyed the ROOTS faculty and other experienced professionals working in the field with humans and horses.

We asked our professional peers about their experience of certification from other organizations. Their answers informed how we structured our programs. The answers also cover many of the questions potential students ask about ROOTS programs.

What was most valuable to you in your certification process?

  • Professional Growth

    ROOTS Programs are designed to develop professionalism at every level.

  • Holistic approach to relationship that included honoring a spiritual component.

    At ROOTS we believe authentic relationship is key to everything we do and that it is our social mammal similarities that inform a deep sense of responsibility to all life on earth.

  • Learning discoveries through science.

    The ROOTS Faculty are passionate about the science of psychology, ethology, neuroscience and ecology and melding that together with heart sense and gut intuition.

  • Time with horses relationally.

    At ROOTS you are not going to hear a lot about horsemanship models. You are going to experience relationship with a fellow social mammal. You will understand learning theory and the framework of social engagement. Healthy inter-species relationships include skill, boundaries, mutuality, compassion and empathy.

  • Exploring authentic relationship with fellow students and instructors.

    While you are being stimulated academically and intellectually, your ROOTS program will also be a safe container for you to explore your own growth goals within supportive relationship with others on this learning journey.

On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) we asked how prepared individuals felt to begin work in the field upon receiving their certification. The average self rating was 2. So then we asked what kept the score from being higher?

  • Needed more time to build confidence working with the horses.

    This is a theme in the answers we received and we took it to heart. The time frame of your ROOTS program reflects our commitment to allowing dedicated time for experience, feedback, support, questions, practice, skill building and building confidence in all areas.

  • Needed more practice time, more experiential opportunities in a facilitator role.
  • More framework and ideas on how to create activities with the horses.

    This is another ROOTS distinction. You will learn a framework for evaluating any activity you run across or create to be sure it meets the test of mutuality and doing no harm emotionally/mentally/physically.

  • Not enough learning time to embody theory and application.

    At ROOTS you will get a balanced education between didactic learning and experiential learning within the supportive realm of your program.

  • Lack of or expense of mentoring, support, experienced supervision.

    Your ROOTS program includes support, mentoring, and supervision unique to the needs of your program.

  • Time and space for personal discovery and exploration.

    All ROOTS programs start with a dedicated equine experiential personal growth module so that each student can immerse themselves in their own personal goals and growth with no performance or academic conflict.

  • Lack of support for the business and marketing of this type of business.

    ROOTS certifications include business and marketing support. Your faculty is committed to your success. Once you have your education, we know you also need support for building a career in this very unique field.

What do you feel is missing in the animal assisted self development/therapy field?

  • A scientifically and spiritually vibrant model that inspires self discovery and healing through connection with and advocacy for social animals (domestic and wild).

    ROOTS Institute embodies the science and soul connection of our relationship with other animals. This sets our students apart with a uniquely qualified education in the area of inter-species social animal interaction.

  • A model that is truly mutually beneficial between humans - nonhumans - earth.

    Mutuality is a ROOTS core value that is backed by ROOTS ethics and social mammal science.

  • Mutuality in relationship with all life in all areas of our lives – it’s not just about the horses.

    At ROOTS the horses anchor so much of the work that we do and teach and our students will explore the efficacy of working with other social animals as well.

  • A program that places our responsibility to animals and nature front and center - looking through the other end of the telescope, which is trying to understand our fragmented selves first then going to animals and nature as a nice soothing balm.

    The inter-species interaction field has evolved to benefit humans emotionally, mentally and physically. Historically the well-being and welfare of the nonhuman animal was not a priority. At ROOTS we follow the science & our hearts; every conscious, sentient being has the right to benefit from relational experiences directed by humans. ROOTS certified facilitators will be professionally skilled passionate advocates for equal benefit to all. Doing no harm to human or nonhuman.

Questions Specifically asked of ROOTS Faculty

What are three personal core values that you believe must be represented in ROOTS training programs to best serve students and our sanctuary animals?

  • Empathy and Compassion for human and nonhuman animals.
  • Enthusiasm for learning.
  • Respect and Integrity between all animals.
  • Do No Harm to Human or Nonhuman.
  • Forgiveness.
  • Meeting every 2 and 4 legged where they are, in every session.
  • Vital need for respectful connection between species.
  • Trust in our voice so that we can hear the voices of others.
  • Commitment to integrating the latest science affecting our field as it emerges!

What is your professional passion for teaching programs at ROOTS Institute?

  • To change the paradigm in how human-nonhuman interaction services are taught, experienced, and expressed through professional services.
  • To lead the way in calling our healing modality back to our roots of connection and reciprocity with all life.
  • To create a collaborative eco-centric model where the capacity for healing and wholeness is equal for all beings - we are not taking a gain for the human at the cost to the nonhuman.
  • Addressing the imbalance between human culture and reconnecting with nature.
  • Put relationship first for the health and development of our youth.
  • Developing personal accountability for the Greater Good!
  • To teach a program that honors our differences in mind and body.
  • To teach more understanding around balancing pathologizing or diagnosing with the cost, consequence and/or benefit to the individual.
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