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Equine Assisted Therapy provided free to residents of Newtown

February 1, 2013
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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In an effort to help with the healing process of children, families, first responders and communities affected by the Newtown, Conn. tragedy, Zoar Ridge Stables (Sandy Hook, Conn.) and the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA), have come together to offer Equine Assisted Psychotherapy free of charge to those in need. Embrace Hope--Sandy Hook Equine Assisted Therapy Foundation will become a permanent part of the Zoar Farm, and will provide funds and facilities for equine assisted mental health programs. EAGALA will provide the services by certified practitioners through Relatively Stable LLC, an EAGALA Model organization.

EAGALA Certified professionals work with a broad spectrum of behavioral/mental health issues and learning goals including ADHD, autism, depression, addiction, eating disorders, couples therapy, stress management, recidivism, teamwork, sexual abuse, leadership skills and trauma-related disorders.

Zoar Ridge Stables has been part of the Sandy Hook community for nearly twenty years. "We are a very close community and are all grieving. Many of the children we lost in the shooting were students, family, friends and neighbors. In their honor, and in hopes of helping those affected by the tragedy, Brian and I are forming a foundation; making our farm available to reach as many people as possible who may need help coping with this terrible tragedy. Our farm has always been a place where the children of Sandy Hook, are happy and feel safe. I hope this program can help restore those feelings, that being with the horses and the special bonds that they can give, can help heal them," stated Annette Sullivan, owner of Zoar Ridge Stables.

"Responses to trauma do not always manifest in ways that can easily be recognized nor do they always occur immediately. Because of their size, innate and acute sensitivity, and non-verbal nature, horses have a unique appeal helping clients of all ages become more engaged in the therapeutic process," said Lynn Thomas, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and founder and Executive Director of EAGALA. "This form of therapy is especially helpful for children and their families as the horses provide an emotionally safe way to project the strong and difficult feelings stemming from trauma and loss. Trauma is held in the body both physically and emotionally and the horses help healing occur in both these critical areas."

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