Troubled Youth

This special population of emotionally disturbed youth includes individuals who have have received diagnoses such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression or other serious mental health problems.Their behaviors include truancy, running away from home, prostitution, self-mutilation, and substance abuse.Their personal and family histories often reflect neglect, physical and emotional abuse, violence, substance abuse, and sexual abuse.

Many of the adolescents who receive equine-assisted psychotherapy at the Eye of a Horse program have been referred by the mental staff at intensive residential treatment programs, where they reside, go to school, and receive standard psychological treatment, such as individual psychotherapy, family therapy, and pharmacotherapy under the care of the facility’s clinical staff.The residents are transported once a week to Forever Florida to engage in the special therapeutic experiences provided by the Cracker horses.

Our equine-assisted programs for these youngsters, who range in age from 11 to 18 years focus heavily on issues such as anger management, boundary setting, self-awareness, communication, cooperation, flexibility, problem-solving and self-confidence.The majority of the females that we work with are victims of sexual trauma.Many of the young males are perpetrators of sexual abuse.The two genders, of course, participate in completely separate programs and do not interact in any way—as is also the case in their permanent residential treatment facility.

Many of these youngsters come from other parts of the country, such as Washington D.C., and have never seen a cattle ranch or 4700 acres of “the great outdoors,” or certainly not a Florida Cracker horse.The psychological benefits of the setting alone are profound.