What we are all about
While the Canadian Forces uses teambuilding, communications training and leadership development to prepare soldiers for war, Can Praxis uses horses to help soldiers recover from it and regain their family relationships.
The Can Praxis three day program was created by a 28 year Veteran and is designed for Veterans and First Responders, serving or retired, who have been diagnosed with PTSD and/or OSI and their Spouses/Partner/Family member. Couples who suffer the effects of PTSD /OSI will experience increased crisis and conflict in their lives. All activities at Can Praxis are designed to reduce inter-personal conflict and crisis through improved effective communication skills.
View this clip:http://youtu.be/i_iwRe8zoNE
As unresolved conflict destroys relationships, and is especially common in overly stressed families, Can Praxis trains participants to manage their conflict effectively. The theoretical foundation for this is Managing Differences by Dan Dana PhD. Richard F. Celeste, former Governor of Ohio, described the book as “A practical guide for dealing with conflict. Dr. Dana moves from scholarly content to common sense with uncommon ease.”
Can Praxis uses walk-along exercises with horses as a training aid. As a ‘flight’ animal they react to human body language. Horses react to what they see; it is their body language that speaks volumes about humans in their proximity. As EAL facilitators, we offer a translation the horses’ behavior to participants in order to increase their own self-awareness.
Our Therapeutic Approach
Most, if not all, participants are or have been under the care of a psychiatrist and/or other mental health professionals. Can Praxis uses Meaning Centred Counselling (MCC), an approach that is recognized by the counselling profession as profound and effective. MCC is an evolutionary development from the widely acclaimed Logotherapy, first articulated by Dr. Viktor Frankl, author of the groundbreaking work Man’s Search for Meaning. Dr. Paul Wong, the renowned psychologist and contributing author to The Human Quest for Meaning: A Handbook of Psychological Research and Clinical Applications, subsequently added some elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Frankl’s original format. MCC asks:
“Does life have real meaning? Is it worth living? How can one make sense of suffering, illness, and death? Through the ages, philosophers, clergy, and laypeople alike have grappled with such existential concerns. Some have taken the position that deep questions about meaning are unanswerable, that ideally one should take life as it comes.
Recent studies have shown, however, that the way in which individuals address existential concerns has profound implications for their mental and physical well-being. The mediating role of personal meaning in coping with stress has also received increasing attention…. No matter how hopeless the situation and how devastating the pain, we are more likely to survive if we cling to the belief that life has some purpose.”
The International Network of Personal Meaning (www.meaning.ca) adds that,
“According to Wong’s meaning-centered approach, a comprehensive resilience program contains at least the following ten lessons:
1) Purposes & life goals;
2) Understanding the self and one’s place in the world;
3) Freedom & responsibility in the face of many options but a finite life;
4) The right & wrong pathways to happiness;
5) Courage to accept internal and external constraints;
6) Faith & belief in a better future;
7) Commitment to growth;
8) Discovering the hidden dimensions of self and new frontiers of life;
9) The power of self-transcendence, empathy, compassion, & altruism;
10) Positive thinking, attribution and meaning-management.”
In essence, MCC is a conversation. A conversation that, in the case of Can Praxis, lasts up to nine days. Through a process of respectful and thoughtful inquiry (an empathic version of Socratic dialogue), participants are invited to understand their challenges, their suffering, their options, and their hope for the future in a deeper, more comprehensive manner. This deeper understanding opens the possibility of new and unique solutions that were previously beyond reach.
MCC is an ideal adjunct to the therapies used by other professionals treating veterans and their spouses or family members. For example, it establishes a greater context for the ever-present threat of crisis and conflict within a family. So, regardless of where the topic of conversation goes, the improvement interpersonal communication between the spouses is the central theme and the main goal.