Equine Assisted World Ep 4: Dr. Rebecca Bailey – Polyvagal Equine Institute – CA, USA

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Many of you have probably heard of Polyvagal Theory; it’s a bit of a buzzword these days in the mental health community. But what is it exactly? And how does it relate to equine work? Well, who better to explain it to us than Dr Rebecca Bailey, co-founder of the Equine Polyvagal Institute in California. Dr Bailey, a longtime family therapist and also an equestrian, has a wealth of experience working with trauma and psychological conditions of all shapes and sizes. A leader in the field, she directed the Sonoma County Police Department’s Youth and Family Services Program, trained psychologists and therapists for the Marin County DUI Program, founded Transitioning Families, which trains health practitioners to assist families going through crisis, and works with national organizations such as the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children. Her background speaks for itself.

But along the way, Dr Bailey also became drawn to the work of renowned psychologist and neuroscientist Dr Stephen Porges, a professor of psychiatry at North Carolina University Chapel Hill, whose Polyvagal theory – which describes how our autonomic nervous system provides us with a range of ways to respond to the world around us, including traumatic or dangerous experiences – determines not just our state of the moment but also our general world view and therefore our behaviors and long term destiny. Understanding the Vagus Nerve, so called because is wanders all over the body and touches every organ, and three of its key functions can unlock cycles of thoughts and behaviors that don’t serve us and can help us retrain our nervous systems and brains into ways that do. But how? Well, listen as Dr Bailey explains it in plain English that even Rupert can understand!

It’s not all science though. Dr Bailey also takes us on a fascinating personal journey through her background and work with horses and clients, some of whom faced situations most of us could not imagine surviving, her time with legendary counterculture rockers The Grateful Dead, her thoughts on altered states of consciousness, all wrapped up with plenty of humor.

So buckle up, have your notebook handy and join us on a fascinating dive down the rabbit hole of the autonomic nervous system that is at once educational, informative, entertaining, and gives we Equine Assisted folks real, practical tips for how to bring this into our practice.

Books mentioned:

Contact Dr. Bailey: 

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