By Debbie James

A Pembrokeshire farmer’s daughter who discovered the healing power of horses at a crisis point in her life is using that experience to help others.

Lilwen Joynson is a trained counsellor and uses animal-assisted therapy to help people express their emotions.

It was a journey she started when she was going through what she describes as a “life struggle - her marriage had ended and her children had grown up and left home.

Lilwen, who lives in Felindre Farchog, qualified as a counsellor then launched Horse Sense for Life and InnerSense Consultants, combining her passion for helping people with the magic that horses can provide.

That personal journey is beautifully documented in her new book, ‘Making A Difference’, which gives an insight into how she discovered the healing power of animals, horses in particular.

In that book, Lilwen reflects honestly and openly about seeking medical help when she was in crisis and the dawning recognition that medication without psychotherapy can only provide a temporary reprieve.

It led to her studying for a degree in integrative counselling and to exploring how animals can support humans with their emotions, before launching her horse therapy business, Horse Sense for Life, in 2012.

Lilwen evolved from farmer to equine therapist and business coach over a period 14 years.

She has worked with over 1,000 clients at different centres throughout UK, including in her home county of Pembrokeshire where she now lives.

Part of her approach is to use the behaviours of her five horses to allow clients to articulate how they are feeling and to open up about life and areas they may be struggling with, such as relationships or confidence in their life.

“Clients will often cover up how they feel and they will have unconscious drivers which keeps that in place,’’ Lilwen explains.

“When we are out in the field with the horses we use metaphors derived from how the horses are behaving to express how they are really feeling and what behaviours they may have had to support them in the past that no longer serve them.’’

Perhaps a horse might be hanging its head, or one might be separate from the rest of the group.

“These metaphors can help people to open up about events and feelings they are covering up and not dealing with,’’ says Lilwen.

“The horses also pick up on people’s emotions when we are out in the field which often are a mirror to show the person how they may need to change something in their lives.’’

Equine assisted therapy and coaching brings people genuine clarity, she believes.

“Being out in nature and working with the horses help us to get a faster outcome,’’ she adds.

Lilwen’s book, ‘Making a Difference’ is available on Amazon.