Each session is tailored to meet the individual therapeutic needs of the client, so no two sessions are alike. Some sessions are specific activities that facilitate learning and insight, and allow practice for new skills. Other sessions are more laid back in that we are talking while we brush, feed, or otherwise interact with the horses. No horse experience is necessary; we take things slowly, at the comfort level of the client. We are always working to make this facility a place of safety, peace, and beauty that nurtures the soul. While we see it as our job to challenge clients (after all, growth does not come from comfort), we will never push clients to talk about things or do activities that make them feel unsafe. We respect that each therapeutic journey is unique. Most of our sessions take place on the ground, although riding is a possibility depending on the client’s therapeutic goals.
We take a two-part approach to therapy: “band-aids and medicine.” Just like with a physical injury, we first address the up-front needs of the client to get a band-aid on, or help address the most pressing needs to help improve client welfare and functioning immediately. Your first session or two are typically orienting the client to the farm, horses, therapist, and this form of therapy; getting to know the client needs and setting goals; and starting to meet those most pressing needs. We find it typically is best to come at least weekly when a client first begins therapy, so that a strong therapeutic relationship can be built and we can help bandage those immediate wounds. Once the client’s “wounds” are covered and that healing has begun, we address the deeper roots of those wounds. This “medicine” involves finding the causes of clients’ struggles. Things such as past traumas, unhealthy relationship patterns, and unhealthy thinking or behaviors are addressed during these sessions. Many clients continue weekly or biweekly through this phase in their journey, as this is where some of the hardest work of therapy is done. Clients may experience the old truth, “it gets worse before it gets better” during this phase. Our goal is to empower and support clients through this part of the journey.
When the client has worked through their root issues, developed healthy patterns that empower them, and is feeling better, we begin to phase out of therapy. Some clients choose to continue coming less frequently for support or accountability for a time. We empower each client to choose what works best for them.
While we cannot quantify the therapeutic process or tell you for sure how long it will take, we find that most clients are feeling better by their first few sessions, and are seeing progress around 6 sessions. We find that the most successful clients are the ones who put the most effort into their therapy. That looks different for each person, but the same rule applies to each client: you will get out what you put in. We encourage you to enter this process whole-heartedly. Give yourself time to reflect after each session. Do any “homework” your therapist assigns. Allow yourself extra grace and self-care during your journey. Commit yourself to doing this because in spite of your circumstances, you deserve to live a happy, healthy, and free life.
For parents who may be asking, what if my child or teenager does not want to come to therapy? We can tell you that almost every child or teen we have worked with opens up immensely and makes progress here. We approach therapy from a comfortable, non-pressured perspective that values what they are thinking and feeling about the process. We know that it is hard to come to a strange place and spill your most difficult and personal “stuff” to a stranger. We often see that these more resistant clients are mostly resistant because they feel they are being forced to change. So we remove the pressure and allow them to open up naturally through working or playing with the horses, walking through the woods, or creating art. We have seen kids that refuse to talk, let down their guard and talk non-stop while on the back of a horse. Every journey is unique, but we find that resistance fades once the client opens up to a horse. Then growth and change can happen naturally through therapeutic activities and conversations.
When you begin this journey, we see our role as guides and helpers in a committed therapeutic relationship. We spend time preparing for each session, to make sure we are giving our best to each client. At times, we will challenge you and you may not like us very much. That is ok – our job is to help you grow and heal, and usually that is not fun. We value authenticity and humanness in our therapeutic relationship with clients; this is part of our down-to-earth approach that we find works best. As such, we value your input along the way. If something works, let us know! If something is not working, let’s try to figure out why. Know that we are committed to helping you find hope, healing, and wholeness in your individual journey.
As counselors, we are extremely committed to what we do. Admittedly, it is more of a lifestyle than a job. We are passionate about helping you live your best life. We spend time researching and training to excel in the services we provide. We set limits on our availability to protect ourselves from over-committing and thus not being able to give our best to each of our clients. We work constantly to improve ourselves, the horses, and the facility – all to provide the best that we can.
Clients may decide how frequently they meet with their counselor, although we suggest meeting at least weekly at first or if the client is in crisis. Most clients meet weekly at first, then phase out gradually to biweekly or monthly before ending their time here. Scheduling can be done with your therapist one week at a time or for several weeks or months in advance. We ask you to give a minimum of 24 hours’ notice if you need to cancel or reschedule a session, so that we can try to schedule another client during that time. If you must cancel a session with less than 24 hours’ notice, we ask that you reschedule your session within that same week or your payment is still due in full. If you do not reschedule an appointment and/or do not make contact with Take Heart for over one month, your case will be closed. To re-open your case, you will need to contact Take Heart to schedule an appointment. If it has been longer than six months since your last session, you will need to fill out new paperwork.
We ask that you limit your outside-of-session contacts to no longer than 15 minutes for phone calls, or reasonably short texts or emails. While we can sometimes respond between sessions, it can be difficult to respond quickly. Because of this, we ask that if you have an emergency, please contact 911, crisis intervention, or someone who can help you immediately, then notify us later. We ask you also to consider the timing of your calls or texts. We work with other clients through the week, and live our own lives with family outside of work. Please be considerate not to call or text before 9am or after 9pm throughout the week, and we ask for no texts or phone calls over the weekends except in case of emergency or to make a Monday scheduling change. We are not “on-call,” but will try to respond to your calls or texts in a timely manner during the work week.
We suggest that you dress comfortably but appropriately for your sessions. If you may be riding, we require long pants (we suggest jeans) for your comfort. Clients are required to wear closed-toed, sturdy shoes (sneakers or boots) when around the horses, to protect your feet in case of being stepped on. Long, dangling jewelry, scarves, or sleeves are not ideal, as they could get caught on something or invite nibbling from the horses. We also ask you not to wear anything that can’t get dirty – you are likely to get some dirt and horse hair on anything you wear.
Often clients enjoy bringing treats for the horses; please just be sure to have your therapist’s approval before feeding anything to the horses. For such big animals, they have sensitive stomachs, and we have to protect their well-being so they can continue to serve people with happiness and health. Horse favorites include apples, carrots, and peppermints. We suggest you carry any food items separately – not in your pockets, as the horses will smell the treat and may get pushy to find it!