Family Court uses horses to help families

Cross-posted from the Marion Star

Written by JESSICA CUFFMAN

The Equine Component is a therapy program used by Marion County Family Court in Ohio to help families involved with the legal system and at-risk girls who need treatment.
The Equine Component is a therapy program used by Marion County Family Court in Ohio to help families involved with the legal system and at-risk girls who need treatment.

MARION, OHIO – The equine therapy offered at a farm just south of Marion could work for almost anybody.

Unless you’re severely allergic to horses or have an overwhelming fear of the 1,200-pound animals, it’s an option for everyone, said Kirsten Stumpo, one of the instructors of The Equine Component, a therapy program used by Marion County Family Court to help families involved with the legal system and at-risk girls who need treatment.

People enrolled in the court-referred program work with Stumpo, who is certified by the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association, and a mental health therapist.

Many of the exercises in working with the horses are based on metaphors for relationships and events in the lives of clients, Stumpo told Family Court staff who went to the farm this week to learn more about the program.

“Horses are a lot like people and are definitely a lot like kids,” Stumpo said.

The 10 horses at the property, owned by Susan Goldstein, are retired standardbred horses that used to be used for racing. They’re perfect for the program, Stumpo said, because they’ve experienced just about everything – lots of people, moving flags and other kinds of distractions. Most of the horses are at least 20 years old.

Stumpo started the program five years ago. Tessa Swavel, a mental health therapist who works with families, used to work with the 13- to 17-year-old girls who were part of the Voices program, which addresses such as healthy relationships, abuse, drug and alcohol use and others.

Swavel said it takes a lot of self-reflection before participants come up with a plan to move forward in their lives after completing the 10 equine sessions and more than a dozen outside sessions.

One component of the Voices program has been adopted by the family program. Journaling facilitates self-reflection and records experiences week-to-week, Stumpo said.

“They put their thoughts on paper and make it real,” she said.

The family program works on relationship and communications issues. Read more >>

2 thoughts on “Family Court uses horses to help families”

  1. Another great story ! more should be done in this particular field, horses can help almost all people with problems………………… This is a known fact ! The more people who see this great thing the horses can give, the more happy people ………. and of course the more horses that can be saved……………..Kudos to Marion , Ohio for its insight………

    Like

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