Healing Strides sees increased need for therapy services during pandemic

'The horse shows no judgement. The horse is totally accepting'

BOONES MILL, Va. – Animals have a special way of loving us no matter what and that can calm our nerves and anxieties. That’s never been more true than right now for Healing Strides of Virginia.

They uses horses to assist in therapy sessions and the Boones Mill nonprofit says more people are reaching out to them for help during the pandemic.

“The horse meets them where they are. The horse shows no judgement. The horse is totally accepting,” said Carol Young, Healing Strides CEO.

Young says that calm, accepting atmosphere is what many are seeking right now.

One Monday in early July, she returned to work to more than a dozen voice messages asking for help.

“The need is tremendous. Over the 4th of July weekend we came in on Monday morning and we had had 15 calls of people looking for services. It’s pretty much like every Monday, it’s like the weekend is really hard for people,” said Young.

Normally, they might get one call every other weekend.

“I think these are just completely unprecedented times in the mental health field,” said Kyle Calhoun, Healing Strides Clinical Director.

With an increase in people turning to equine therapy, the nonprofit just hired Calhoun, a mental health specialist.

“Our ability to bring someone into a ring with a person there, even at a safe distance, to interact with an animal and really address what this isolation is doing in people’s hearts and people’s brains is a blessing to be able to do,” said Calhoun.

The horses are faithful to help, but Young says funding isn't as stable.

“We have a lot of people that again have a need and yet because we’re at 50% capacity our funds are at 50% capacity,” Young said.

If you’re interested in donating to Healing Strides of Virginia, click here.

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