New child therapy gallops into town; horses assist therapists
June 27, 2007
The therapist’s notes read like this:
“Met with client for winter session. She presented good mood. I observed that when she became frustrated with the donkey her response was to try to hand me the reins and ask me to take over. As she persevered, she displayed less frustration and responded with a smile.”
During the hour and a half meeting, the therapist watched the girl and her frustrations – seeing what the girl might say, seeing what she wanted to say.
Representatives with the company, HealTherapy Inc., said the program pairs the child with a therapist and psychologist who will use horses as part of psychotherapy to treat children and teenagers with emotional or behavioral problems. The company opened an office in Carson City this week.
Clayton “Mickey” Hayes, chief executive office of the Carson City office, said horses are better to use than cats or dogs, because they naturally empathize with how timid children can be.
“You sit (children) down in a social worker’s or psychologist’s office,” he said, “and they don’t want to talk about what’s happened to them. It’s very hard for them.”
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Right now, 20 people with horse training backgrounds are scheduled to be therapists at the Carson City office. Hayes said he is working on getting two places between Carson City and Gardnerville where the children can be with the horses.
The work the children will do with the horses will be more than learning how to ride, said Dr. Anne Kramer, a psychologist at the company’s headquarters in Yreka, Calif. For instance, the child will train, play games and go through obstacle courses.
During this, a therapist can see how the child react. Does he give up? Does he seem happy? Does he become aggressive?
Kramer said working with a horse also teaches a child communication, trust and respect.
Plus, she said, “It feels a lot less like health treatment than traditional therapy.”
Janie Quiquley, a therapist for the company also in Yreka, said horses are good animals to use for the therapy because they are intuitive and can mimic the child’s feelings.
Once the child trusts the horse and can tell what his and the horse’s limits are, she said, the horse will be able to sense “deepest fear or happiest moment” of the child.
• Contact reporter Dave Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.
HealTherapy of Nevada
What: Child psychotherapy with the assistance of horses
Where: 1802 N. Carson St., suite 208