Healing horses nurture spirits of grieving teens
Posted by Allison Hanley, LPC, CADC
The loss of a loved one turns your world upside down and, for a teenager, this loss can be especially bewildering. In my role as a bereavement counselor, I talk with teens that often feel like there is no way out, like the light of their lives has been diminished and they can become immersed in the stress of their own feelings. It is overwhelming for anyone, but especially for a teen finding their place in the world.
Because of those feelings, some teens think traditional forms of grief counseling might not work, or that they’re a waste of time. Who is there to talk to that will understand? And how can talking help when it is so painful to feel? Maybe these feelings come from a place of fear or being guarded. Maybe the stories they need to share feel too raw, or—on the other hand—maybe it’s too tough to even make sense of what they're feeling.
Regardless of the reasons that can prevent them from seeking help, they still feel broken, lost, and need support. That’s why JourneyCare has forged a creative partnership with Main Stay Therapeutic Farm, with the goal to provide a non-traditional, non-threatening route to healing for teens who have experienced a loss. This process of healing doesn’t require active communication that can be scary or vulnerable, but rather the silent connection and shared energies between teens and animals. At the most fundamental level, it teaches them about learning to care for themselves by caring for another.
The animals at Main Stay are incredibly receptive to a person’s need for emotional support, and—amazingly—they give it. Whether it is by providing love, challenges, or simple comfort, these creatures encourage teens to express their emotions, their grief, and they help them let it all go. Ultimately, they can help teens start to move forward again.
To learn more about bereavement programs for high school age youth, please visit journeycare.org/grief-support or call (227) 770-2273.