We had the good fortune of connecting with Nakoma Garcia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nakoma, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in rural Indiana. My parents were agricultural farmers and spring, summer and fall usually meant they were gone long hours. I spent most of my time with my younger sister. We would spend hours in the woods, at the creek, riding 3 wheelers and bikes, playing with animals and anything we could find to get through the days. We didn’t have horses at our farm growing up, but we had friends who did. I would go ride with them and I fell in love with one specific Arabian name Hakomi who taught me patience and peace.
Later, We did get horses- actually 27 over the late teen years. I loved being able to go outside, groom and just be present with the horses. They offered me a lot of peace and grounding. I would ride for hours and become a new and refreshed person. I later worked in a boarding school where I was a counselor for at risk youth. The students would ride horses with me and they found tranquility being around nature and the herd. I knew there was more to it than what I had imagined. So many stories were shared on the backs of horses, anxiety vanished and depression was lifted.
After I finished Grad School, I delved into my first love of horses and my passion of working with people. I found that Equine Therapy definitely helps many people who have gone through trauma or may have deep emotional needs. During our sessions, we focus on connection and build relationships through nature, with the horses and with ourselves. I have actually incorporated Equine Work and EMDR which has been a huge benefit for those going through this modality.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a LPC in Colorado. This means I’ve completed over 8 years of school- as I was single parenting though most of those years. However, I never quit and kept going through all of the crazy and late nights of studying and being mom. I knew I had to improve my life and the future for my 3 boys. After my Masters Program, I worked in a practice. I soon realized I needed to be doing my own thing and building my own dream, not helping someone else reach theirs. I opened up my practice, Peace Within Counseling. I took many, many more hours of training to be able to focus on Veterans, First Responders and others who have gone through traumatic incidents. I am trained in EMDR- a modality that helps one to feel less from the traumatic incident and to not have such an emotional response when thinking about it. It has worked with so many clients that I’ve been blessed to help through negative thoughts and incidents that were beyond their control. I also use Equine Therapy to help heal people from negative thought patterns and behaviors. I belive that many of our emotional issues stem from disconnection and unattached relationships as a child. Therefore, with horses we can start to build that connection and relationship. We focus on trust- trusting the horse, therapist and oneself. I think what sets me aside from many other counselors is that I combine EMDR and Equine Therapy to help a client regulate and work through their concerns. This is done through groundwork and with some clients we will do rhythmic riding prior to EMDR and other mounted work for some clients. I have been working as a counselor for over 20 years and have a lot of experience with teens and adults. I’ve also learned a variety of techniques to help people through their mental wellness journey.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh I love this question because I LOVE playing the tour guide! I’ve had friends visit from back home and I THINK they enjoyed their stays in our beautiful state! I live between Denver and CO Springs so we get the best of all of Colorado in our backyard. I usually drive to Pikes Peak. I remember as a kid going there on the dirt paths and scaring us to death. So it is good family memories and much better now that it is paved. I drove my 88 year old grandfather up a few years ago too. He was elated and said, “Thank you for taking me as close to Heaven as I’ve ever been”. We usually end up going to Manitou Springs for dinner and a quick tour of The Cliff Dwellings.
Estes Park is a must also. I love seeing the elk in RMNP. Sometimes we even get lucky enough to spot a moose. We usually eat at Penelope’s or Wapiti Grill for the Rocky Mountain Oysters and have to stop to pick up some salt water taffy. I used to take family and friends to the 16th Street Mall, but many times people prefer the nature areas. Red Rocks and Lookout Mountain are always fun to visit also.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have been blessed with so many encouraging people in my life that it is so hard to pinpoint one or even a few! My mother is a big inspiration to allow me to do what I do. As a therapist, she is able to step in when I’m lost or confused with what to do next. She helps me stay motivated when we offer Women’s Retreats and plays a large role during those times. I will also say that my dear friend, Claire Nana, inspired me to just start with what I know. She pushed me to work and start my equine therapy years ago and I will never forget that. Marsha Evans, Cindy Miller and Khara Chroswaite Brindle have helped so much with the business end of my practice and have spent many hours answering my questions. Judy Schneider has been a wonderful friend and mentor. Having been where I am, she uses enough tough love to push me to the next step- and continues to do so.
Last and definitely not least is my 3 boys and Maddie also keep me going. They are my WHY! Why I bounce back after a hard fall and keep going. Why I persevere after a rough day of working with clients. They, along with Joel, help tremendously in taking care of our small herd and allow me to work with clients at a more personal level. And they sit with me for hours processing my next move. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am! I want to send a shout out to every person in my life who sees my vision and dreams big with me. Also to every cowboy and cowgirl who have crossed my path- thank YOU!