We worked with a young man some time ago with a history of deprivation and abuse. One of the things we were asked, was to try to help him address his anger. This was difficult for him to manage.
We asked him to carry out an activity which included identifying some challenges and goals he had. He chose “anger” and “frustration” as challenges and “sports” as a goal he wanted to achieve. He was asked to build representations of this out of the props available in the arena. It took him a long time to identify a goal he wanted to achieve, and it seemed that he said sports just to get the task over with. After identifying these things, he was also asked to find a good quality he could name about himself. When we asked this, he said “I don’t know” and then lay down on the grass. The task of finding good qualities about himself seemed insurmountable. We asked him to continue with the task and left him with the horses to complete the task.
This young man stayed laying or sitting on the ground for the remainder of the session, approximately 45 minutes. 2 of the horses moved in and out of the spaces he had built but stayed away from him. The white horse in the session, moved slowly closer to the young man over the time he was sitting on the ground, and for the last 20 minutes of the session stood between him and the frustration and anger spaces, just behind him.
As soon as we ended the session he stood up and put his arms around this white horse. He stayed with this horse for a time. He finally said that this horse reminded him of a very close friend.
Sometimes our good qualities are hard to see and our flaws and challenges seem overwhelming, so much so, that it stops us in our tracks and silences us.
Knowing a wise friend, “has our back” is sometimes all we need to be able to move forward.