TRAVERSE is an EFP (Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy) program. This means the children who come to our program learn to care for, groom & ride a large, powerful animal as they go through therapy for their presenting & underlying issues. Horses are wonderful co-therapists because they're completely nonjudgmental and yet can show us exactly how we're acting (by reacting in body language or behavior, much like children do). Because they're so large, horses also have an uncanny knack for instilling respect, confidence and self-esteem. Our program was designed specifically to assist traumatized youth as they regain these very things. Some highlights of our program include:
- Responsibility & Commitment
- Teamwork & Relationship Building
- Conquering Fears
- Self-Esteem & Personal Growth
- Goal Orientation
- Family Focus
- Emotional Support
This isn't just animal therapy- its sound, traditional therapy with the added aspect of horses & their care. The children we work with are in need of serious help, and the program is therefore intense, comprehensive, and multidimensional.
Here at TRAVERSE, our program:
• Targets both individual and contextual change (child and family)
• Is developmentally appropriate
• Focuses on multiple contexts (individual, peer, family, school)
• Is intensive (behavioral, affective, psychomotor)
• Is long-term (1 school year)
• Is implemented with fidelity (program characteristics are replicated in each group)
Although TRAVERSE is sound in its clinical orientation; children really want to come to work with the horses! They want to be “Horse People”, learning from other “Horse People”. The equestrian component removes the stigma of being “sick”, of being a “victim”, and children are attracted, rather than forced into treatment. The developing relationship with the horse and the escalating challenges of horsemanship maintain this attraction.
Equestrian activities are a metaphor for life. For example, horses teach children to follow rules, as all rules at the stable are sound & clear safety principles for both the horse and rider. Children learn the rationale behind the rules and limits and begin deeming them necessary.
While TRAVERSE is easily described by its equestrian element, much of the meaningful work takes place outside the arena with the families. The power of the family to inhibit or facilitate positive change is huge-- family stability is a big factor in a child’s positive adjustment.
That said, the Family Worker is an important member of both the parent group and the children’s equestrian group. The Family Worker facilitates clear communication and makes sure that problem resolution strategies developed in the group will be reinforced at home. This component is meant to create the positive home environment needed for children to maintain progress not only in the arena at TRAVERSE, but in life & far past graduation.
In addition to the traditional group program, TRAVERSE offers Equine Therapy through MTM upon referral.
Thanks to the generosity of a donor, TRAVERSE is able to offer up to three return sessions for recent graduates of the group program. Please contact Joe at 813-924-0488 to schedule.