Stories from other business owners like you, to share their inspirations, challenges and triumphs!
Sharene Duncan is an experienced Mental Health Nurse supporting others in mental health and well being across the life span with horses as teachers, and has created Brisbane North Equine Assisted Therapy to combine her knowledge and her passion. Here’s her story:
Where did the idea for your business come from, and when did it start being a business rather than a hobby for you?
I developed a close relationship with one of our foals when her mother died. Over time I noticed what that relationship offered me and became interested in benefits of this, how horses can help others. I would talk about this to friends and family a lot. One of my long life friends introduced me to the American models of equine assisted therapies and then the search was on to find one close to home. That’s when I came across The Equine Psychotherapy Institute in Daylesford Melbourne. I completed the training and the rest is history.
What was your biggest challenge while still in start up mode?
Creating a space at home that would be appealing and safe for my horses and my clients. Trying to find out what area/clientele I want to aim my expertise.
What is your biggest challenge right now, and heading in the future for your business?
I am currently studying my Masters degree in Mental Health Nursing so I can go through the application processes with the appropriate professional bodies to get my provider number so my business is more accessible to people. My doing this people will be able to access my service via a Mental Health plan from their GP and private health. Juggling my full time job, studies and making myself available for my clients on the weekends. Learning to engage in practices that support myself as a practitioner and working out what I need to continue my development.
What is the one thing that you wish you had done differently in the early stages of your business?
I wished I had of completed my studies quicker to free up more time. I am still in the early stages I believe but I think for me working out what my needs are as a practitioner and how I can support myself.
Where do you see your particular segment of the pet or equine industry heading in the future? (innovations, changes in philosophy, regulations, perceptions etc)
I would love to see this modality used commonly as other psychology services with the public and private health sectors. I believe that this therapy assist people in addressing and unfinished business at a very deep level. Being out of the clinic room and in the environment allows for a change in the therapeutic relationship. I believe it breaks down the “sterile,” part of therapy. Horses are powerful healers that evoke feelings during therapy and allow us to opportunity to explore new ways of being without judgment.
As a nurse I see people receiving medications without therapy. This band-aid approach only works for so long. We need to get to the core of the issue instead of pushing it down. I see for the near future people will use this modality more and more because people are looking for something different, something they can really connect with and the relationship of a large animal like a horse can be truly powerful. It changes the relationship of the therapist and client because there is in fact three or more people in this relationship offering therapy not just one on one and it is a doing therapy, not talk therapy, people can practice new ways with the horse.
What does “Success” look like for you?
Success for me is after a session the client tells me that they have found their session helpful and they feel that they can move forward.
What is your biggest tip for other small business owners in the first few years of their own businesses?
Stay connect with others in your field and support each other. Let yourself make mistakes and know your growth edges.
I offer a therapy where by people feel comfortable and more at ease and open (without the constriction of four walls and a normal therapy room), I help facilitate along with my horses the opportunity for people to explore themselves safely and more deeply. Horses have provided me with opportunities for personal growth, learning, connectedness and healing for myself and now I am assisting others to do so.
I believe in ongoing learning and professional development and am currently completing my Master in Mental Health Nursing with the intention to become a credentialed as a specialist Mental Health Nurse under the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses. I have been trained by the Equine Psychotherapy Institute and am now practicing the EPA Model.
I have a love of people and providing support to help others empower themselves and achieve their goals.