Beate Pracht and Andrea Eikelmann offer team and burn-out training with animal support and lamina therapy: Five lamas help seminar participants to relax or improve their team skills. In the interview, the two tell how they came up with the unusual idea and what is behind it. Beate Pracht (abbreviation BP) was a sports scientist with a degree in sports and movement therapy from a specialist clinic for psychiatry and psychosomatics for 15 years before she became self-employed with "magnificent llamas". Andrea Eikelmann (abbreviation AE) is a qualified civil engineer and business trainer and ensures that communication between people works smoothly. The two have already received six awards, including the German Training Award of the Professional Association of Sales Promoters and Trainers (BDVT) in 2009.
Frau Pracht, Frau Eikelmann, how did you get to Lama?
BP: I have been offering individual and group coaching in the field of exercise, relaxation and holistic health management since 1990. In my 15 year of work in a specialist clinic, I increasingly had to deal with specialists and executives with stress-related illnesses such as burnout. This has shown me that you have to intervene preventively. And it motivated me to finally implement my business idea and so in June I founded 2007 Prachtlamas. When I wanted to start my own business, it was important to be connected with nature, animals and movement. I have already read studies that attest to a high degree of effectiveness in the use of animals in therapeutic measures. I then transferred these advantages to team and management training and supplemented it with my own approaches.
AE: Ms. Pracht and I already worked together as trainers. When I heard about the business idea with the lamas, I spontaneously said: "Yes, it is!" I thought the idea was so good that I was there right from the start and learned everything about posture, care and expertise about llamas with Ms. Pracht.
Training with animals can be heard more often - but why llamas?
AE: As pack animals, llamas have become experts in stress management over the centuries. Llamas can keep calm and relaxed despite high stress. And we use this ability in the stress management seminars ...
... and I thought lama spit might have a relaxing effect!
BP (laughs): First of all, lamas only spit on llamas. The reasons for this can be food jealousy and rank fights. Since llamas can recognize people as a strange species, they don't spit on us. Exceptions in zoos are the so-called “mis-shaped” animals that have not been socialized in a way that is typical of the species.
I am relieved! But how does such a course go now exactly?
AE: Very practice-oriented, with many examples from the professional world, so that the participants can apply the learned at the workplace equally. The lamas in the training serve as an exercise partner - of course always with instructions.
BP: For example, if someone acts insecure or is distracted and less attentive, the animals react restlessly and evade. They then try to go elsewhere. Or you do the opposite of it and try to assert yourself with iron, authoritarianism and power, then the lamas refuse completely. But if you fully engage with the lamas and are present, they are easy to lead and follow with confidence. You can find an excerpt from a seminar on video at, for example Spiegel-TV (Link: - you can watch the whole thing live!
They also offer leadership training: At first glance, llamas and managers don't have much in common ...
BP (laughs again): It's not about similarities at all. Llamas spiegeln the behavior and attitudes of people without thinking, very directly. We humans involuntarily think first before we act. And people evaluate what they experience - whether it is negative or positive. Llamas don't do that. They just react in an unadulterated way.
AE: You can, just what Guide to learn a lot of llamas: for example, lamas are herd animals and yet each lama has its own character and they form a team of individualists. Even if lamas have a hierarchy in the herd, the “boss” is not that easy to spot. Because it is usually an experienced animal that leads its flock "from behind", so to speak.
Is this also true for company management?
BP (laughs a lot): Well, we have five lamas - Kasimir, Hannibal, Caruso, Dancer and Diego - each animal has its own preferences and quirks. Just like us humans :-)
AE: Seriously, it is somehow true: We are a team at eye level - in the “people team” as well as with the llamas. And we like to slow down, even if we often make phone calls from the pasture while we are feeding the “boys”. Or on the go in the car - for reasons of time
So the lamas are fully part of the team?
BP: Absolute. The needs of humans and animals are equally important. Of course with the addition that we humans have the responsibility for the llamas.
AE: The cooperation works great - we take turns in animal care and try to deploy everyone where he or she has his or her skills and can best implement and develop his or her potential.
How does animal protection work?
BP: It is very important to us. We have full responsibility for the animals. And we take this very seriously. This also means, for example, that sufficient rest periods are planned for the animals and that their health should also be preventive. And also to be a contact for requests from the animal protection association.
Where are the animals?
BP: We are with our lamas in the middle of the Ruhr area, in Gelsenkirchen not far from the Schalke Arena. Who does not know it: the Ruhr area has many green areas and many recreation areas with the typical Ruhr area atmosphere - in the middle of the city and very livable.
And where do the seminars take place?
AE: The venue is located in the city on a meeting farm. We have an open stable, which means that the five llamas are out in the pastures year-round and have a shelter sheltered from the wind where they can protect themselves from the rain. Gastronomy and premises are available on site.
Do you understand your offer more than therapy or training?
BP: We clearly distinguish between training and therapeutic services. In Lamatherapy, we start from very different approaches and goals. Each participant benefits from the nature of the lamas in his or her own way - be it during training in practical exercises or in animal-assisted movement therapy.
Now seriously: Is this really serious or just a funny idea?
AE: In numerous studies, researchers have shown that positive contact with animals also strengthens the experience of emotional closeness and trust in others. For example, those who pay attention to how animals communicate will also be more receptive to non-verbal signals in humans in the future.
Proven health effects of animals - especially in cardiovascular diseases - allow the conclusion that empathic relationships enable a feeling of calm and connectedness. This improves the handling of stress. And there is evidence that people who have positive contacts with animals are increasingly releasing oxytocin. Oxytocin is associated with feelings like love, trust and calm.
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