Depression and Anxiety are the most common mental health struggles in our nation today. Often working hand-in-hand, depression and anxiety can range from patterns of negative thoughts to crippling fears or suicidal ideation. Past trauma or current stressors can feel overwhelming and hopeless, or bring on anger or poor choices as we try to cope - but we believe freedom is possible. Teen boys especially grow up in a world of mixed messages about emotions and mental health – we want to provide knowledge and tools for mental health self-care for guys in a world that denies its value.
Each two-hour session includes interactive activities with the horses, and honest discussion based on topics such as stress, anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide, trauma, loneliness, relationships, anger, or bullying. Teens will get to learn and practice proven tools such as: coping skills and self-regulation, boundaries that empower, self-care plans, challenging negative self-talk and thought processes, assertive communication, and healthy relationship skills. Horses make incredible teachers, listeners, and partners through the hard work of healing and growing. Additionally, being in a group environment challenges the feeling that you are alone in your pain; teens will experience encouragement and support from Take Heart staff as well as other group members. Therapy can be an amazing experience; we believe you can learn, grow, and heal while having fun! No horse experience is necessary. Most of our horse activities will be on the ground, although depending on the group, we may do some riding.
To provide the best learning experience possible for each participant, we want to select a cohesive group of teens. Who is the best fit for this group? Teens ages 12-17 who are struggling with any of the above listed emotional struggles on a regular basis. They may or may not be already working with a therapist, although we recommend that you tell their therapist about this group. If your teen has an official diagnosis, we ask you to disclose this with us so that we can best understand how to help. Teens who struggle with extreme impulsivity, explosive anger, severe suicidal ideation, or violence will not be accepted into the group, but may contact Take Heart about individual therapy services. Teens with intellectual or physical disabilities or who are on the autism spectrum, or who require special services such as a 1-on-1 in school, are not a fit for this group, but may contact Take Heart about individual or other group therapy services. This group is limited to no more than 10 participants under supervision of 3 Take Heart staff members, to ensure individualized attention. Groups are facilitated by a licensed professional counselor and/or master’s-level therapist and other Take Heart staff – all with backgrounds in mental health and experience in equine assisted therapy. While most activities will be on the ground, please note that if we do any riding, our horses’ weight limit is 200lbs.
Teens should come prepared for group by wearing long pants (no shorts for riding, although if we are not riding shorts are fine) and sturdy boots or sneakers. Clothes and shoes that can get muddy are best. They should bring a water bottle or small snack if needed; we do have candy or small snacks occasionally. Please alert staff of any allergies. Parents are invited to wait in cars or our outdoor waiting area, or drop their teen off and return for pickup promptly at the end of group.