Berkshire HorseWorks takes a different approach to using horses in therapy. Instead of physical interactions, founder Hayley Sumner says they establish emotional connections with the animals.
"They mirror the emotions of what's going on in the client, so we're looking for discrepancies and shifts and patterns in their behaviors and in the client's behaviors," Sumner says.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, they're taking some of their established therapy methods and creating a brand new program catered specifically towards health care workers.
"During this COVID situation, as with any other emergency response, you see an increased need for attentiveness toward mental health issues. There is a residual effect if you don’t address the mental health issues that come with it," Sumner adds.
She says they're working with Berkshire Health Systems and other local health care organizations to offer a variety of programs.
The sessions will help workers through difficult situations stemming from their experiences.
"We create activities that are through direct and indirect metaphor and role-playing, as well as the organic connection with horses, depending upon what the clients' needs are," Sumner says.
Sumner says this type of therapy can be beneficial to anyone feeling the strain of the pandemic, regardless of how they've been impacted.
"People are stressed, they're angry. There's an increase in anxiety, in depression, suicidal iterations, but most importantly, a need to reconnect. It doesn't matter if it's psychotherapy, they want an activity where they can be outdoors, doing something that feels helpful."