Getting back on the horse that threw ya’ isn’t always easy. For some people fear subsides quickly, while for others the fall out of the trauma lingers. Regardless of which category a rider falls into, Dr. Mary Kay Stenger and hypnotherapy may be just the remedy.
Mary Kay, a medical and clinical hypnotherapist located in San Luis Obispo has over 35 years experience in integrative medicine, health and motivational psychology and nutritional wellness. When asked how she first began using hypnotherapy with people who strive to overcome fear of horses, Mary Kay laughs and says, “Now you are talking about accessing long term memory, Beth!” That is typical Mary Kay, a gentle and humble, yet uniquely gifted healer who is a radiant picture of health and beauty.
“My introduction to the horse world began by working with trainers on personal issues, other than trauma. They were so impressed with their own results that they began to refer their riders to me.
I created a clinic and presented it at one of the ranches and to local horse clubs. It was specific to helping riders understand how the horse responds to the rider’s fear and reactions. In addition, we worked on tools to transform those fears into confidence. The results are more enjoyable riding and increased safety for both horse and rider.”
Mary Kay believes there is something unique about horses and the people who love them, “They are both highly sensitive and respond well to mind body techniques. When an individual recognizes that their horse can actually sense and respond or react to their thoughts, that awareness is the first step towards control and safety. It also gives the horse confidence and trust in their rider.”
“When an individual recognizes that their horse can actually sense and respond or react to their thoughts, that awareness is the first step towards control and safety.”
Mary Kay sites a traumatized rider she worked with as part of a clinic. With the rider’s permission, the trainer took the traumatized rider and her horse into the arena. The trainer spooked the horse and got it to react. The rider’s fear reaction was triggered and Mary Kay worked verbally with the rider to re-frame the emotions that arose and to help regain a sense of control. As a rider shifted from fear to confidence, there was a measurable difference in the horse’s response.
But clinics and on horseback aren’t the only way to work with Mary Kay. Clients also participate in one-to-one hypnosis or hypnotherapy sessions in her office in San Luis Obispo.
“What happens in a session is highly individual. I begin with a detailed discussion of history and specific issues. Oftentimes what appears as the primary problem is simply a symptom of something else. I use diagrams to explain how our conscious and subconscious mind work. The first session begins with a guided meditation specific to counter whatever the symptoms are. Clients go home with a recording that they can continue to utilize. They learn tools to counter the problem emotion or reaction.”
According to Mary Kay, sometimes, for some issues, one session is all it takes and people feel a profound shift. “More generally an individual will feel better after the first session. They will have more effective tools to use. They can be more aware of the underlying feelings behind the problem. If subsequent sessions are required, we do a more interactive form of hypnotherapy to release old issues, re-pattern the thinking, using whatever tools necessary to clear the pattern. I tell all clients that we will take one week at a time. I move my clients as quickly as they can be safely moved through the process.”
When asked what other areas of life people can benefit from hypnotherapy, Mary Kay says, “The state of hypnosis gives us access to the subconscious mind. That is the part of our minds that we feel and act from. The state of hypnosis is the most effective state to work in for a variety of issues. Performance anxiety, fear, stress, sleep, anxiety, pain, healing, and addictions are a few examples. Confidence, self esteem, eating, and weight issues can be effectively dealt with in a surprising short amount of time, as well as many other issues.”
Many of Mary Kay’s clients have been referred by trainers and riding instructors as well as from other riders themselves. “I find people involved with horses tend to be good communicators about what works for them.”
In terms of her own horse experience, Mary Kay has done some riding as a youth and as an adult but her focus now is on the horse-human relationship.
“Hypnosis is a wonderful state not only for overcoming fears and stress, but for personal growth. Each of us have all of the answers we need within us. Because hypnotherapy deals with the subconscious part of the mind, the part we feel and act from, hypnotherapy helps us connect with our own inner guidance and wisdom.”
“Each of us have all of the answers we need within us.”
If you’d like to experience hypnotherapy, you can contact Mary Kay at 805-544-9766 or ask family and friends for a recommendation of a practitioner with whom they’ve had success. The state of California, as well as most others, does not license hypnotherapy, rather an individual can receive a certification upon completion of a program.
Important questions to ask a practitioner include educational background, where they trained in hypnosis and or hypnotherapy, and their psychology background. If there are medical issues involved, ask about a medical background. The understanding of human anatomy and physiology is important for some issues. Also ask about any additional or ongoing training, as well as how long they have been in practice.
To learn more about Mary Kay and her work, go to her website, www.hypnosisforhealth.net/.