MIDLAND Starlight Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc. and Texas Tech Associate Professor of Psychology, Stephanie Moses, Ph, D. are collaborating in an Equine Facilitated Therapy (EFT) study to learn more about the effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy on youth with anxiety.
Starlight Executive Director, Gina Friedman, said the non-profit developed the program in response to new mental-health needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the past year, there has been an increase in the number of inquiries by families on behalf of individuals suffering from anxiety, stress, and other mental-health concerns,” Friedman said. “While we offer several horsemanship programs that are responsive to these needs, we are now launching a partnership with a licensed, certified mental-health practitioner to study the benefits of EFT for those looking for a different approach to improve mental wellness.”
EFT is the combined use of horses, a licensed therapist, and an equine specialist working with participants to address various therapeutic treatment goals. EFT gives individuals an opportunity to learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, then processing feelings, behaviors, and patterns with the therapist’s help.
Friedman said that spending time outdoors in nature instead of sitting in an office across from a therapist is often more appealing to teens. “It can be an attractive option for an adolescent who is hesitant about traditional therapy,” she said. “Being outside and interacting with the horses can motivate a young person to seek or agree to professional help.”
“The services that we provide for individuals and their families within our community are non-traditional, unique, and powerful,” Friedman said. “Being at the barn and interacting with our horses often brings harmony and tranquility to those who visit us. Our goal is to create awareness about the benefits of EFT and give individuals who suffer from anxiety an alternative to traditional therapy.”
Starlight Therapeutic Riding Center, Inc. is located at 5401 Polo Club Road in Midland.
For more information, call 432-741-5773 or visit www.starlightmidland.org.