Rim Guidance Has New Equestrian Therapy Facility

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Southwest Behavioral Health's Rim Guidance Center held an inaugural ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, March 31 for its new 42-foot covered round pen, which will be the central facility for the Elk Meadow Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) program.

Speakers included Southwest Behavioral Health Services board member Don Logue, a Payson resident, who also cut the ribbon, and SBH Services CEO and President Jeff Jorde. Staff members and clients from the Elk Meadow EAP program and Southwest Behavioral Health Rim Guidance Center were also in attendance.

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A new, covered facility will make it possible for Southwest Behavioral Health Rim Guidance Center to operate its equestrian therapy program year-round, regardless of the weather.

According to SBH Rim Guidance Center's Mick Greer, a certified equine professional who oversees the Elk Meadow program, "People who are resistant to other types of behavioral therapies can make tremendous advances by working with horses. These kind, gentle creatures teach discipline, respect and communication. By having this covered round pen, we will now be able to conduct our EAP program year-round in all types of weather."

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is an emerging field in which horses are used as a tool for emotional growth and learning. EAP involves a collaborative effort between a behavioral health team, a client and a horse. Through this experiential approach, clients are provided with opportunities to enhance their self-awareness and to improve behaviors, feelings and attitudes. The focus of EAP is not on riding the horses. Rather, the therapy focuses on groundwork and the relationship between the client and the horse.

Clients will engage in a series of "exercises" such as grooming, leading, catching, haltering and role playing. Through this therapy, the client and the behavioral health team are able to assist the client in sorting out negative behaviors and creating effective coping strategies in a non-threatening way. Potential clients include: substance abusers and/or those from dependent families; those who are lacking in self-esteem; people with poor listening skills or people who have difficulty following directions; children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder; people having difficulty with relationships; and, among other things, people who are suffering from stress, depression, loss, or feelings of being overwhelmed.

For information on the Elk Meadow Equestrian Therapy Program, contact The Southwest Behavioral Health Services Rim Guidance Center at (928) 474-3303.

Southwest Behavioral Health, a 501c3 non-profit agency, www.sbhservices.org, has served adults and their families in Arizona since 1969. With more than 600 full-time staff and approximately 50 facilities located throughout central Arizona, SBH provides comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adolescents and adults with active partnerships throughout Arizona for all walks of life. The Rim Guidance Center Division of SBH, located in Payson, provides outpatient psychiatric services, individual and group counseling, intensive outpatient services for clients with substance abuse, domestic violence and anger management issues, recovery support services, and Child and Family Teams for treatment of children and adolescents. Serving all of Northern Gila County, and more than 1,000 consumers per year, the SBH Rim Guidance Center provides a 24-hour response for behavioral health crises, 365 days per year.

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