Dr. David Boje, the originator of the quantum storytelling concept, and his wife, Dr. Grace Ann Rosile, who knows her way around horses, combine equine therapy and a concept called “re-storying” in a program to help military veterans with PTSD:
This is yet another way that quantum storytelling is effective. It is not so much about telling a story, as it is about letting your story tell you. Let your story give you your perspective, your focus, your critical distance. Let it be your objective framework for dealing with a rough reality by, quite literally in this instance, riding through it on the back of a horse. And playing in a sandbox. Here’s a video of Boje and Rosile explaining. (Don’t be deceived by the childlike aspects of the sandbox activity. There’s some deep play going on there, involving a concept called materiality, and another for how we are guided, in part, by our ideas about the future.)
I can testify that this type of quantum story therapy works, not because I’m a vet with PTSD, but because my father was, and my family and I got to see his healing up close. He was a World War II vet who experienced some of the war’s worst atrocities. They didn’t call it PTSD then. The word most commonly used was “shellshock.” My father characterized it as, “I would jump at loud sounds. If someone had a gun, I couldn’t be around it. I would have to walk away. I couldn’t be around crowds, or anyplace noisy, like a sporting event.” There were other things, too. His skepticism of authority figures. His occasional dark spells. His willingness to sacrifice any part of the family budget to buy his six children cowboy hats and boots every year. So they could get tormented on the school bus.
The game that healed him involved hitching his fate to horses. And not just any horses. For the most part, his horses were defective. Damaged physically and psychologically. Flawed in some way. These unloved animals were in need of rehabilitation, just like he was. Eventually, we had 38 of these flawed animals on our farm, which we opened to the public in the form of a weekend theme park called Clover Leaf Park and Riding Stable. Yes, people could pay to ride our rehabbed horses.
It was a wild ride, this life of maintaining my father’s defective horses and his crazy vision of turning our farm into an outdoor recreation mecca themed around them. It was like living in a movie. I can tell you that it healed my father, or at least kept the hounds of war far away from him and his family. At one point, his dreams of horse heaven nearly destroyed us. At another point, they saved the farm. Mainly, they provided us with an amazing, adventure-filled life. Based on what I learned from being “in treatment” with my father all those years growing up on our farm, my one bit of advice to Boje and Rosile’s vets would be this: Find the horses that mirror your own condition, and get well together. Anyone can love a good horse. The test is how you feel and what you do about the troubled ones.
Oh, and I guess I might as well throw in Clover Leaf Park and Riding Stable’s “Rules to Riders,” the sign which hung in the entrance to our barn, signed by my parents, Bob and Fern:
- Keep your horses on the bridle path
- Follow the lead horse
- One rider per horse
- Riders must be at least 10 years of age
- Stay on your horse. Mounting and dismounting in the paddock only.
- Never let go of your reins
- Horses may jump at the sound of a sonic boom, so always sit firmly in the saddle.
I considered it a good ride if the riders following my lead horse obeyed 4 of the 7. #7 was always fun. It is my own brand of PTSD, re-living what it was like when Rule #7 came into play. Good thing I’m seeing Boje and Rosile next week : )