Equine Assisted Therapy for Veteran/First Responder Parents and their Children

Soul Friends, Horses Inspire! program has been providing equine facilitated psychotherapy to children across Connecticut for 18 years.  For the last 18 months, with gratitude from the Latham Foundation, Soul Friends clinical staff and equine specialists provides a  phase-based attachment informed curriculum for veteran/military and first responders parents and their children.  Pilot study findings were presented at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Social Work Conference, and social workers – Kate Nicoll and Judith Liu both EAGALA trained clinicians and their equine specialist Kim Severance and Liz Caplan, in process of PATH certification plan to grow the program in the coming year.  Nicoll is also trained in Natural Lifemanship and by the International Association of Animal Assisted Play Therapy

Horses Inspire! is a 6-session clinical equine facilitated therapy program based on the foundation that horses can support and challenge families to understand their life experiences through interactive activities with an equine partner.  As herd animals, horses are compassionate animals that rely on trust-based relationships and their experiences can provide a metaphor to children who are struggling with issues of identity, self-esteem, and self-reliance. Horses Inspire! is designed to support families and positively impact their self-esteem, identity development, attachment styles, communication skills, and ability to build trusting strengths-based relationships.

Soul Friends has actively partnered with three barns in CT, and is pursuing further partnerships to provide equine assisted psychotherapy to children, families, veterans and first responders.  Recently hiring three new clinicians and three equine specialists, Soul Friends is actively seeking donations and a matching grant to provide more services.  One parent after 6 sessions reported that he realized he did not have “discipline at lightning speed”.  Another veteran, Rachel and her daughter participated in the sessions and found it “very helpful” and believe in the healing benefits of partnering with horses to increase insight into non-verbal communication.

Donations can be made at www.soul-friends.org and for more information on their Horses Inspire! program and its ability to be replicated contact Soul Friends, founder Kate Nicoll, LCSW at kate@soulfriendsct.org

Kate Nicoll, LCSW