Helping adults and children with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, trauma or family therapy is challenging, but Dayspring Center for Christian Counseling in Albertville and Owens Cross Roads has a new four-legged tool.

Equine therapy will now be offered as an alternative course of therapy at Cha-La-Kee Ranch near Guntersville.

Leah Gunter Lucas, a licensed clinical social worker, and marriage and family therapist Lindsay Gunter Taylor are partnering with Anita Duncan and the ranch to implement Equine Assisted Psycho therapy Program.

“The premise behind EAP is that it is designed to be experiential in nature,” Lucas said.

“EAP utilizes horses to help individuals experience emotional growth and learning. Since horses are naturally dynamic, powerful and genuine creatures, they help give individuals the opportunity to experience metaphorical learning.”

Lucas said while the counseling method may be different, the premise is the same.

“It is a different way to get to a solution,” she said. “It is very different from traditional counseling where you bring someone in and sit down and talk.

“With EAP, you are actually out in an arena, and there are many activities that present opportunities to learn.

“You typically get results in 12 sessions of equine therapy versus a year of traditional counseling.”

Equine assisted psychotherapy requires the client to apply skills such as non-verbal communication, problem-solving, leadership, assertiveness and confidence.

Not every patient will be a candidate for equine therapy, Lucas said, but anyone interested in the program should set up an initial evaluation session to learn more.

A fundraiser and educational meeting is set for Wednesday at the Rock House Eatery in Guntersville from 5-7 p.m.  

Participants will have the opportunity to learn more about EAP through videos and from Anita Duncan of the Cha-La-Kee Ranch, Lucas said.

Soups and salad with drinks will be available for a “nominal amount” and additional donations will be accepted during the night.

Donations are tax deductible.

For more information about the equine therapy program or Dayspring Center for Christian Counseling, log onto their website at or by calling them at 256-878-3809 or 356-725-3722.

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