Our clinicians pull from many modalities in order to facilitate growth, including:
Our clinicians practice therapy strategies that are evidence-based and trauma-informed.
Following the EAGALA model, we focus on learning to communicate and work together as a group unit and on partnership and awareness of others.
Equine therapy does not require any horsemanship skills, and is ground-based, with no riding involved.
Horses offer a safe space for reflection and help mirror non-judgement and unconditional love. This gives our students the opportunity the practice the skills that are core to maintaining healthy relationships, such as emotional awareness, communication, trust, authenticity and congruence, setting boundaries, and emotional regulation.
In the group setting, students have the opportunity to give and receive support from their peers which is a healing part of their growth process.
In this group session, we use the established SMART recovery method in which group members learn tools and techniques to manage emotions and behaviors. Girls collaborate with each other to help their peers solve difficulties related to addictive behaviors that many people turn to for instant gratification when needing to feel better about a challenge in their lives. SMART helps students to see that while the behaviors that make them feel good right away may seem like a helpful solution to their feelings in the short term, they are behaviors that in the long term can keep them stuck in unhealthy thought patterns that are likely to hold them back. SMART teaches students how to look at the choices they have in front of them and see which choices would be more beneficial for them to develop a healthy mindset and healthier habits to accomplish their long-term goals in life.
This group helps students focus on the pursuits of the Theraplay method which they are working on in their individual plans. Students practice the skills needed for them to master the pursuit they are on, in a lighter environment, allowing them to have fun in the process. Theraplay gives many ideas for activities that can be done in the group that focus on various challenges for the pursuits of Structure, Nurture, Engagement and Challenge. The theory behind this is that the accomplishment of all of these pursuits in a person’s life can help them to be more successful in their relationships with others, their performance in school, their self-confidence and their self-esteem, all of which are very important to a person’s growth.
Encouraging Creativity, Confidence, Self-Expression
Our students love the chance to express themselves in different ways and share their artistic gifts with our community. Whether singing together, painting, fashioning a ceramic dish, sewing a dress, writing a sonnet, learning a dance, playing a sport or patiently nurturing a seed to life, each individual flourishes as they hone skills and tap into hidden talents.
Building Healthy Relationships Based on Mutual Trust
Many times, the lack of understanding of the importance of trust and respect is an adolescent’s core issue. Therefore, the central aim of equine therapy is to help our struggling teens create healthy relationships based on mutual trust and respect.
Horses are used for therapeutic purposes because they are exceptional “mirrors” for our young women. More often than not, our students struggle with emotional control and both verbal and non-verbal communication.
Horses are uniquely attuned to the emotions of the humans around them, sensing and reflecting their non-verbal behaviors, yet they are also exceedingly patient and forgiving. Hence, horses can be “a way in” to students who are stuck in unhealthy behavior patterns, trauma, defiance, addiction, depression or anxiety.
Through interacting closely with horses, our students practice developing and maintaining positive relationships based on mutual trust and respect. They are then guided to apply these tools to restoring and developing their relationships with family, friends and staff.