Mental Health Counselling
We provides individual counseling for youth, adolescents and adults, also including counselling for parents and families. The counseling sessions are one hour in length and are facilitated in an non traditional farm environment. Sessions may include a variety of activities which are of interest and designed to engage the participant.
Our approach includes a focus on happiness, wellness and healthy perspective. We teach grounding strategies and life skills to enhance daily living.
Animal facility therapy is the inclusion of exceptional animals in the counselling experience. The animals enhance therapy in numerous ways. For example, we are able engage participant in counselling experience, provide comfort, pleasant momentary distraction, endless teachable moments, awareness of animal response to participant to learn regulation, self reflection, consciousness of feelings and outward perception of individual behavior .....
During the winter our office space is in the second story of our little log barn. The barn has a wood burning stove that provided warmth on cold winter days. The space is eclectic, informal surrounded by plants, comfortable chairs, comfortable cushions on floor. This office houses crafts, book,s small fireplace and a white angora rabbit, Alice.
During the warmer times the majority of activity is outside. Our property has close to 100 acres of rolling fields and pine forest. The forest has winding walking paths throughout. There are lots of unique sitting areas, the shade of a large tree, a koi pond with water fall or a shaded grooming area for horses.
When I began to develop this concept, more than 30 years ago, it seemed like common sense. If I want to engage people in the counselling experience, it had to be comfortable, reassuring, interesting and a place that felt safe. From this perspective, I began to develop ways to incorporate all things around me. I strove to create meaningful and reflective experiences. I have developed so many techniques and ways of creating teachable moments. I learned that through facilitating all kinds of activities, I could evaluate/understand focus, feelings and perspectives. These experiences also offered the opportunity to teach and create insight. When I first began, my work was perceived as "alternative' and today is celebrated for it's innovation. One of my greatest privileges was receiving an award from the Canadian Mental Health Association, for Innovation in Mental Health Service. It was at that time, I felt I had achieved the recognition that was deserving for this unique and sound approach to mental health.
I am often asked if anyone can achieve positive clinical outcomes just from beginning with animals. I think it is necessary to evaluate what your desired outcome for the counselling experience is. When you engage a licensed professional they will have specialized training and are held to professional standards. There is significant research that supports animals and nature having a therapeutic effect for some people. However it is the inclusion of skill, experience and training of a clinician, that will move that experience beyond measure.