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BHW Blog

Social Worker Caseloads Put Them at Risk

Posted on: February 19th, 2016 by Hayley , No Comments

Overwhelming caseloads and a lack of safety training puts social workers at an exceptionally high risk. These professionals report to put their own safety on the back burner while handling a large number at cases. While the federal guidelines recommend no more than 12 cases per caseworker, caseworkers in St. Albans, VT average a caseload of 24.8. If these social workers limited themselves to the federal recommendation, the entire office would be able to handle only 60.4% of their current cases. This reveals another dilemma: a dearth of qualified professionals in this area or just budget cuts?

Either way, security has shamefully faded to the background. Does it take a death of a local social worker, for Vermont’s DCF offices to establish mandatory safety training programs and protocols such as the buddy system when making home visits?  Please chime in.

Read more here.

Horses Facilitating Change at Berkshire HorseWorks

Posted on: February 12th, 2016 by Hayley , No Comments

Berkshire HorseWorks has seen nearly 200 individuals, couples, and families struggling with various mental and behavioral challenges ranging from depression, PSTD, TBI, anxiety, ADHD, trauma, addiction, autism, sexual abuse, and anger management. Our rescue horses have been there for them as they have been there for the horses. This video gives you a glimpse into the lives of these people as well as how this work has affected them, and the benefits they received from Equine Assisted Therapy.  As you will hear from some of our partners and mental health professionals, this is incredibly powerful work and horses really do facilitate change.

If this video has inspired you to become involved in some way, please contact Berkshire HorseWorks at (413) 698-3700 or info@berkshirehorseworks.com Of course if there is someone in your life who you believe will benefit from this work, please reach out. We would love to thank Ptarmigan Films, in particular Stephen and Derek for their hard work and creative support.

Helping Released Inmates Succeed

Posted on: January 5th, 2016 by Hayley , No Comments

In October, the United States Justice Department announced its plan to release thousands of inmates early from federal prisons. With this, comes the question, how many of those released suffer from mental illnesses, and how, as a society, and more specifically as mental health professionals, will we address their needs.

Approximately one in every 100 Americans lives behind bars, according to a 2014 report by the National Research Council—approximately 2.2 million people currently reside in our nation’s correctional facilities. Out of this population, many will be released and commit additional crimes and return to the criminal justice system. Psychologists have seriously begun to look into the cause of this where intervention must occur.

Over half of today’s prisoners suffer from some sort of mental illness, and rates of serious mental illnesses such as major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder are three to four times higher than that of the general population. In addition to mental illnesses, substance abuse compounds the issue.  Regrettably, June Tangney, PhD, a clinical psychologist at George Mason University who studies interventions for jail inmates admits, “The correctional system has become our de facto mental health system. It is one of our silent shames.”

Ironically, despite the pervasiveness of mental illness and substance abuse in today’s prisons, there is a dearth of quality services which adequately examine the root of the behavior as well as the familial impact or other factors before diagnosing and proceeding with a treatment plan.

Furthermore, those who do receive treatment are highly unlikely to either seek treatment after release or to possess the resources necessary to continue.

In addition to the lack of treatment of mental illness before and after release of these inmates, there are even more basic needs that must to be met in order to ensure these individuals will not succumb to recidivism. The Risk-Need Responsivity (RNR) Model created by the late psychologist, Donald A. Andrews, PhD, of Carleton University in Ottawa, has been the leading tool in assessing the needs of inmates. It not only assesses the risks of recidivism, but also measures the broad range of criminogenic needs associated with criminal behavior.

The greatest challenge is to accurately communicate and share the findings (knowledge) with certified social service professionals to ensure appropriate treatment. Fortunately, the Federal Government stepped in in 2008 and passed the Second Chance Act which provides grants to evidence based programs that aid in the reintegration, monitoring, and overall treatment of inmates.

One viable evidence-based modality for these inmates is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is the basis of EAGALA Model Equine Assisted Psychotherapy practiced at Berkshire HorseWorks. This modality has been found to be highly efficacious with this population for its unique ability to identify and modify behavioral patterns.

To read more about this topic, visit the article “Life on the Outside” featured on the American Psychological Association website.

Natural Horsemanship Clinic with Tim Hayes on May 16

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by Hayley , One Comment

Tim_HayesBerkshire HorseWorks™ is pleased to announce a very special fundraising event. On May 16, 2015, Berkshire HorseWorks presents the Natural Horsemanship Clinic with renowned horseman and author, Tim Hayes.

Hayes, author of Riding Home: The Power of Horses to Heal, conducts clinics worldwide and has starred in the award-winning documentary “Natural Horsemanship with Tim Hayes.” Before his career as a horseman, Tim worked in film and TV. He was a cowboy in Idaho, and began teaching Natural Horsemanship, often called “Horse Whispering,” as a riding instructor in Montauk, NY.

Book_225A nationally recognized horse clinician, Tim is also a visiting instructor for The University of Connecticut and The University of Vermont.

Tim’s book, Riding Home:The Power of Horses to Heal, is the first and only book to scientifically and experientially explain why horses have the extraordinary ability to emotionally transform the lives of thousands of men, women and children, whether they are horse lovers, or suffering from deep psychological wounds.

The Natural Horsemanship Clinic will be held from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Berkshire Equestrian Center, Richmond, MA followed by a “Meet the Author” cocktail reception and book signing at The Inn at Richmond. Registration is available for the entire day’s and evening’s events, or for selected sessions only.

Registration for the event is as follows:

  • Clinic participation with reception & book signing: $150
  • Audit with cocktail reception & book signing: $50
  • Cocktail reception & book signing only: $35

All proceeds will benefit Berkshire HorseWorks, a 501 (C)3 providing EAGALA model equine assisted team building and equine Assisted psychotherapy to those in our community struggling with PTSD and related challenges.

Please register by May 9th using this registration form. For questions and details, call Hayley Sumner at (413) 698-3700. Download an event flyer here.

15th Annual EAGALA Conference Held in March

Posted on: April 18th, 2014 by Hayley , No Comments

EAGALA Convenes in Mesquite for Annual Conference ~

Every year, people from across the world who practice the EAGALA method of treatment, gather to learn more about the program and discuss new ways to apply the EAGALA Model of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning to help others in need. Professionals come here to learn more ways to treat their patients. We were there to represent Berkshire HorseWorks. Read more about this year’s conference in this article from The Mesquite News. The photo below is from a session at Berkshire HorseWorks and is not related to the Mesquite conference.

EAL Session at Berkshire HorseWorks

Unique mental health conference held in Mesquite

Mesquite News

Kenny Green • The Mesquite News • March 19, 2014 – Since the Mesquite Arena opened, it has been the host to numerous events that utilize horses. A recent event involved horses in a different way. Instead of using them to race around barrels at breakneck speeds or guide wayward bulls back into their pens, these horses where being used to provide therapy to individuals with mental illnesses as part of EAGALA’s annual conference.

“EAGALA uses a specific model for horses to help people with various mental illnesses,” said Lynn Thomas, EAGALA co-founder and executive director. “The way we incorporate the horses, it allows people to connect with them. Because horses are prey animals, they have the ability to read nonverbal communication. We are always sending these nonverbal messages, and the horses respond to that. As a result, through their reactions, we can learn a lot about ourselves.”

One way horses are used is for people that have faced addictions. Thomas said the person with the addiction will be asked to set up a path for the horse to follow. The path will contain various roadblocks and key points during their recovery process.

Kenny Green’s entire article is available at Mesquite News.

Equine Assisted Therapy Helps Veterans With PTSD

Posted on: April 17th, 2014 by Hayley , No Comments

Equine Assisted Learning Proves Effective For PTSD ~

According to a new study in the Canadian Military Journal authored by Dr. Randy Duncan of the University of Saskatchewan, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy “does in fact provide real-time relief for PTSD.” The study was conducted at Can Praxis in Rocky Mountain House with 100 particpants over a one year period. The photo below is from a session at Berkshire HorseWorks and is not related to article from 660news.com.

Military Reins Of Hope

Data suggests equine-assisted learning helps veterans with PTSD; program hopes for expansion

A local program that helps Canadian veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by working with horses is hoping new data will show how effective their methods are.

Can Praxis in Rocky Mountain House has been in operation for a year where the horses are used to help soldiers with anxiety, behavioral issues and problem-solving.

Co-Founder Steve Critchley is praising a new study in the Canadian Military Journal, which said the model is providing valuable help not only to the veterans, but their families as well.

“If they’re carrying a lot of angst or aggression with them, they see it, the horses won’t cooperate very well,” he said. “So they are learning how to within themselves, find a way to relax, to calm down, to be able to communicate effectively.”

Lucas Meyer’s entire article is available at 660news.com.

Children Benefit from Equine Assisted Learning

Posted on: April 15th, 2014 by Hayley , No Comments

Equine Therapy Helps Charlestown, Indiana 9 Year Old ~

The EAGALA model of Equine Assisted Learning has helped thousands of children and adults around the world deal with emotional issues, anger management, coping skills and social interaction. Ethan Vaughn’s story in the Courier-Journal last week was just another reminder to all of us at Berkshire HorseWorks what seeming miracles can come from the horse/human collaboration. Families who had all but lost hope find solace and reassurance when they discover EAL and EAP. The photo below is from a session at Berkshire HorseWorks and is not related to Ethan Vaughn.

Equine Assisted Therapy works well for children

Horse therapy helps children cope with behavior issues

Jenna Esarey • The Courier-Journal • April 9, 2014 – Last year, Ethan Vaughn’s angry outbursts and struggles with ADHD were getting out of hand. The Charlestown third-grader was having trouble focusing and controlling his behavior in school.

“He’s always had hyperactivity, but things had gotten a lot worse. He was having trouble with anger,” said his mother, Kerri Vaughn.

That was until the family found out about Jeffersonville’s nonprofit horse therapy group, Opening Gates Inc., that offers equine-assisted counseling and learning programs using its 19 horses.

“I had heard about therapy horses, but I had no idea we had any in the area,” Vaughn said.

Ethan, 9, was paired with Bear, an abused animal rescued by therapist Shara Wiesenauer, the founder of Opening Gates. “He’s 27. That would be 81 if he was a person,” she said.

Imported from Ireland, Bear was a competitor at the grand prix level in dressage and was a jumper. “We found him six years ago at an animal rescue,” Wiesenauer said. “He was not in good shape. He had been abandoned at a slaughter auction. This animal that was once deemed of no use now serves a wonderful purpose.”

Ethan worked to control his outbursts to avoid upsetting Bear. After working with Bear once a week for 12 weeks, Ethan made great strides. “He’s just learned so much more from this than I could have asked,” Vaughn said. “It has been a godsend.”

Jenna Esarey’s entire article is available at The Courier-Journal.

Juvenile Resource Center

Posted on: March 17th, 2014 by Hayley , No Comments

A Great Day With Juvenile Resource Center Kids ~

EAL session with Juvenile Resource Center kids

So moved and motivated by today’s Equine Assisted Learning session with Juvenile Resource Center kids. Resourceful, creative and all around good people … horses appreciate you and so do we.

P.S. Thanks for sharing your mom and family with us!

Leadership Skills with John Dewey Academy

Posted on: September 8th, 2013 by Hayley , No Comments

Leadership Skills with John Dewey Academy ~

Fantastic group from John Dewey Academy came to Berkshire HorseWorks to hone leadership skills thru EAGALA Model Equine Assisted Learning activities. What a great day. We can’t wait to work with you again!

Thanks to all of you for joining us!

Leadership skills with John Dewey Academy