to Neighborhood Post,
The announcer calls your name on the loudspeaker. You and your horse approach the course, and you fill with anxiety.
It's not just the competition. You're worried about how much it costs to show, all the responsibilities waiting for you at home, the big project you're in charge of at work and a host of other issues. Who better to talk to about them than another "horse person?"
Lisa Baugh of Wellington is a licensed Marriage and Family
Therapist and a lifelong equestrian. Three years ago, she
parlayed both into Equine Counseling Services.
"ECS is psychotherapy by horse people for horse people," Baugh said.
"Horse people lead unusual lives. I understand their life. It's a comfort factor for a lot of people."
Baugh also runs Sagittarius Rising (www.sagrising.com), an equine assisted therapy and learning program. While Equestrian Counseling Services is traditional psychotherapy for equestrians, Sagittarius Rising offers people the chance to learn about themselves through interacting with horses on the ground. The sessions can be individual or part of a group exercise.
Baugh's program is different because she is a licensed therapist. One of Baugh's pet peeves is equestrian programs that offer "equine therapy" but lack a trained mental health professional on staff.
"Just about anybody can do something with people and horses and say it's therapy," she said. "If they're going to call it psychotherapy, they have to be licensed."
In addition to her Florida Marriage and Family Therapist license, Baugh is certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, which is as close to a governing body as you can get in the field of equine assisted psychotherapy and learning.
Sagittarius Rising follows the standards set forth by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. Often, the people who come to her for traditional counseling through ECS give equine-assisted therapy a try. Many of them, however, are satisfied just to sit and talk to someone who understands them.
One big advantage to going through therapy with a fellow equestrian, Baugh said, is the common vernacular.
"It's easier to talk to someone who knows what their lives are about, even if the issues have nothing to do with horses," she said. "If they start to use 'horsey' language, I'm going to get it. If someone tells me they ride on the 'A' show circuit, I get it. A traditional therapist would not understand, and much time would be wasted explaining what that is."
Equestrians seek counseling for common problems like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, marital discord and anger management. They also come for help with issues that are unique to equestrians, such as the stress of show season, the rigors of taking care of horses, and the difficulty of juggling work, family and equestrian life.
Baugh not only works with horse owners and riders, but with horse show staff and management as well. Baugh thinks her equestrian background and experience make the therapy process a little easier. "I instantly have an idea what their lifestyle is like," she said. "And that is reassuring to them."
Lisa can be reached by phone at 561-791-8939, by email at Lsbaugh1@yahoo.com or visit her website at www.sagrising.com/ECS.
Lisa Baugh, MA, LMFT
Lisa Baugh is a FL licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and is certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association. She uses traditional counseling as well as experiential techniques such as Equine Assisted Therapy to help individuals and families reach their full potential. Though she works with individuals and families from a wide variety of lifestyles and backgrounds, she has a special affinity for “horse people” and a unique understanding of their worldviews. Her life-long equestrian background makes her sensitive to the specific influences and nuances of the horse community.