In this podcast, occupational therapist Gina Taylor and Suzanne Kapral from Hillside Farms discuss the benefits of incorporating farm animals and nature-based work into trauma-informed care practices. The program at Hillside Farms brings in a team of professionals, including occupational therapists, trauma counselors, and social workers, to work with children who have experienced traumatic events. The children work alongside staff members and caretakers, learning about where their food comes from and the value of respecting the earth and animals. The farm animals provide a natural connectedness that helps to break down communication barriers and allows children to learn proper and appropriate ways to communicate their feelings. By working with nature and the farm animals, children are able to heal and recover from trauma in a unique and effective way. Incorporating animals into trauma-based care and grief counseling can be a powerful tool, but it's important to partner with organizations or individuals who have the necessary expertise to ensure the welfare of the animals. It's also crucial to not underestimate the amount of work and time required to care for animals, and to seek out available resources and local partners to support this type of therapy. Here are some resources discussed in this episode for mental health professionals interested in incorporating traditional animals/farm animals in therapeutic settings:
Human Animal Bond Research Institute:
Colorado State University: Human Animal Bond
International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organizations
ROOTS at Evergreen Grove
The Lands at Hillside Farms
Suzanne is happy to hop on a Zoom call for anyone interested in the farm animal area of therapy (or education). She can help with initial setup as it relates to the business side (including insurance, vetting animals, animal welfare, etc.). Her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
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