Blue Rein Ranch Sign

About Animal Assisted Therapy 

Animals (especially horses) help people regulate an unregulated nervous system, and to restore the emotional-physical balance required for healing. They help people create new emotional pathways, and increase their tolerance for painful feelings. Broken and damaged attachment bonds are healed, allowing clients to trust again, form new attachment bonds with others, and move forward to live rich and meaningful lives.

AAT can be especially helpful for children who feel uncomfortable with traditional counselling.

No horse experience is required in order to engage in AAT. All sessions are carefully paced by the therapist to meet client needs and comfort level.

Clients often choose to blend office therapy with animal assisted therapy. We may conduct some sessions at the office in Lethbridge and follow up with some experiential healing work at Blue Rein Ranch, located just south of Fort Macleod, AB.

 

Anxiety/Depression

A common symptom for those who are experiencing stress as a result of trauma, abuse, anxiety, depression or anything else is the inability to regulate the nervous system. This may include heightened startle responses, anxiety, panic, inability to relax, restlessness, digestive problems, emotional flooding, chronic pain, sleeplessness, lethargy, exhaustion, dissociation, etc. People who experience one or more of these symptoms often blame themselves for feeling the way they do, which in turn, can lead to extensive feelings of depression and more anxiety.

Trauma/Emotional Regulation

At Blue Rein Ranch, animals (especially horses), are used to help people regulate their unregulated nervous system, and to restore the emotional-physical balance required to heal. New pathways of arousal, emotion, and meaning are developed, expanding the window of tolerance for emotion as well as the capacity to develop healthy relationships. Broken and damaged attachment bonds are healed, allowing clients to trust again, form new attachment bonds with others, and move forward to live rich and meaningful lives.

Family Therapy

AAT interventions are also particularly helpful for families. Family members will spend time together conducting activities with horses to restore and strengthen their emotional connections with each other. The therapist will help families achieve their goals. For example, interventions may focus on developing conflict resolution skills. 

Children

AAT can be especially helpful for children who feel uncomfortable with traditional counselling.

No horse experience is required in order to engage in AAT. All sessions are carefully paced by the therapist to meet client needs and comfort level.

Treating the effects of trauma/stress by learning how to regulate the nervous system is one of the goals of AAT. The following illustrations show the difference between a healthy nervous system, and one that has been impacted by trauma.*

A healthy, regulated nervous system looks  like this:

Healthy nervous system

An unhealthy, disregulated nervous system looks like this.

Symptoms of undischarged stress

 

*Adapted by Marvin Vandenhoek (M.C., C.C.C.) from: Amy (2014, Nov. 24). Window of tolerance [Web log post]. Retrieved from: http://bestwecanandmore.blogspot.ca/2014/11/window-of-tolerance.html