My name is Patrick Somers, I served ten years in the Australian Military as a Medic. Five of these years were with the Army, the final five with the Air Force. During my career I gained the rank of Corporal and was being fast tracked to Sergeant. I deployed once during my career to the Middle East as part of the International Stabilisation effort for Afghanistan. During my career I was exposed to several traumatic events which led to me being medically discharged in 2012. I was diagnosed with complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety and Depression. Over the years I have tried many treatments. I have been on many different medications, I have had Electro Convulsive Therapy and have sat with many different Psychologists. All these treatments have had very limited efficacy. I first became aware of Equine Acceptance Therapy a few years ago when I stumbled across a documentary online. I saw how effective it was in several settings, from being used in prisons in the USA to help violent offenders, to being used to help Veterans cope with mental health issues. So, when my Rehabilitation Consultant said I could participate is twelve sessions here in South Australia I was very keen to get started. Little did I know the massive positive impact this was going to have on my life. In the first sessions I quickly bonded with a horse named Dexter. Over the coming weeks I noticed my mental health improving across the board. My anxiety became more manageable. My depressive symptoms began to improve and my PTSD began to have less of a negative impact in my life. I would look forward to going to spend time with Dexter all week.
When I visited him I’d walk him around the enclosure, brush him, feed him and talk to him. If, on arrival I was feeling anxious Dexter wouldn’t be very receptive as he could tell what I was feeling. So, I would retreat from the enclosure, take some deep breaths, calm myself and approach him again. After doing that, Dexter would allow me into his space and we would spend a few hours together. The effect of the weekly visits has had more of a positive impact on my life than any other therapy I have engaged in over the ten years I have struggled with my mental health. When my twelve DVA funded visits came to an end the facilitators Julie and Rob Walker said I was welcome to return at any time and not to worry about the funding of the sessions. They were more concerned with my maintaining my mental health, they would not turn myself or any other Veteran away. Julie and Rob Walker are the most generous people I have met in years. They are so strongly compelled to help members of the veteran community here in SA and have had a hugely positive impact on many Veterans lives including my own. I have recommended Equine Acceptance Therapy to many people I know who suffer with a wide range of mental illnesses. It is an extremely effective therapy and with facilitators like Julie and Rob Walker it is even more effective. Their compassion, understanding and generosity complement this form of therapy massively. They are an asset to the mental health system in SA and should be recognised as such. Regards. Patrick Somers
Hi I'm Erin I am 28. I've been coming to Equine Acceptance Therapy for about a year now. Without Julie, Rob, Stella the Kelpie and the horses I would be a lot angrier, unsettled and un-productive. Thanks to gradually working through some concreted deep issues and feelings with Julie's guidance and support I've become far more confident in myself and my abilities. I've tackled problems head on. I over think less, I give myself more credit and have become a better friend, daughter, aunty and sister. I've found a purpose and found that life is worth living. I look forward to my regular sessions. Here I feel cared for, listened to and worth something. i wouldn't have it any other way.