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The lessons of equine therapy can help strengthen bonds with cyber-powered kids

Dr. Julie Stass helps people explore their inner world to identify and confront the thoughts that are causing the suffering so they can choose to change their mind about what has happened or is happening, and steer a new course with a heart at peace.
Dr. Julie Stass helps people explore their inner world to identify and confront the thoughts that are causing the suffering so they can choose to change their mind about what has happened or is happening, and steer a new course with a heart at peace. courtesy

Kids today experience a lot of fear and fakery in their cyber-powered worlds, and they instinctively know the real deal when they experience it. In this regard, internet connectivity offers awesome power to communicate with distant relatives and friends, and learn about any topic of choosing. It is also a connectivity that can with the wrong thinking inspire a traumatic sense of isolation and hopelessness. And so it is not surprising that this generation of digital natives (Gen Z) is seeking authenticity in more profound ways than previous generations. After a decade of fieldwork and research about the modern parent-child relationship it is clear that this authenticity children seek is fearless collaboration, which one can understand as God’s love explained in 1John 4:18.

Many parents are concerned about controlling the apps and the devices, and yet the most important control for the modern parent is taming their own fearful and critical heart so it is safe to engage in open communication – especially about things that are risky and frightening. Our children’s childhoods are informing them radically differently than those of previous generations, and the cyber technology makes it easier to keep secrets. So we need to be able to learn from them in order to impart our wisdom. For if we are fearful, judgmental and critical, then the signal we send our kids is that it is not safe to come home and unpack how their experiences are informing them; we cannot effectively impart our wisdom if they are not seeking it from us.

Dr. Julie Stass, founder of Primal Connection in Granite Bay, has served as a therapist over 25 years working the youth and families, and recently transitioned from traditional therapy into equine therapy that engages the calming impact of horses to help clients more quickly overcome traumatic experiences. She helps people explore their inner world to identify and confront the thoughts that are causing the suffering so they can choose to change their mind about what has happened or is happening, and steer a new course with a heart at peace. “I became frustrated with the traditional methods and insurance rules impacting what could be done,” she said. “I decided that I needed to explore high impact methods and finally concluded that working with horses offered the most powerful healing.’

Stass’ practice helps people recover from trauma-induced thought patterns by tapping into their own capacity to think for themselves and choose the thoughts that govern their state of heart and mind. Her philosophy reinforces some truths that are relevant for the modern parent who must create a safe environment for kids to share what is happening in their lives, on and off line.

Tips for establishing authentic connections with your cyber-powered child:

  1. Shed fear. Recognize that fear breaks the connection to feeling secure in love. Your primary motivation must be originating from love, which has no fear. Fear seeks to control the child, not to help the child learn how to be in control of her own thoughts, decisions and actions.
  2. Examine thoughts as true or false – you decide. Suspend any thought that is full of torment, and ask yourself “Is that really true?” Examine thoughts in light of what you know to be true instinctively and according to your faith. If the thought lands in the camp of fear, shame and judging, put it aside. “Just because you have a thought or saw it on the internet does not make it true,” Stass said. Something is only true if you allow it be so in your own mind. So a daughter who has been sexting and is cyberbullied is not a slut unless you and she allow it to be so in your own minds.
  3. Encourage courageous objectivity. Because cyber-powered connectivity can become a single point of reference for life, it is imperative that we encourage our children to look at power struggles objectively. “Step outside of the pain,” Stass said, “And then you can make a decision about how to respond and own it.”

To learn more about equine therapy go to: Primal-Connection.

For more about connecting with authenticity to address the modern issues of children and families go to: Reviving Parenthood.

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