Animal Assisted Therapy
Animal therapy is making strides in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For years, animals have been used with great benefit in the treatment of the aged and the terminally ill. Now animal assisted therapy is benefitting sufferers of PTSD. The results of animal assisted therapy in the treatment of PTSD patients have seen significant results. In one study of the effect of dogs on patients, psychologists noted an 82% reduction in symptoms. One case noted that interacting with the dog for as little as one week enabled a patient to decrease the amount of anxiety and sleep medications by half.
Studies have shown that wolves will assist each other in a way a domestic canine does not. There is also archaeological evidence to support that they take care of their sick and injured. In the wolf pack, if one calls out in distress, they all come running. Like all humans, they have incurred injuries, suffered loss, had conflicts, and they can recover with help from each other. What is interesting to note is that, like us, an injured wolf in the wild will take time away from the pack to go off and heal, "lick its wounds" so as not to compromise the survival of the pack as a whole. They return when they are stronger and able to take on their responsibilities.
With the help of Shadowland Foundation and their pack of six Alaskan Timberwolves and their “wolf healing” programs, individuals who are hurting, have a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to uncover and recover their authentic selves with the wolves and “Walk with Freedom” again from traumas that often end in self & substance abuse.
Creative Arts Therapy for PTS
Visual art, music, drama, and expressive writing are some of the primary expressive arts modalities used in counseling. The creative arts offer both the clinician and the client an opportunity to move beyond the expressive limits of talk therapy.
"A note about creative arts therapy: You need not be an artist to do this; Your subconscious does it for you. It is simply using art as a means of expression, self discovery and awareness. Art can illicit deeply emotional responses in human beings. For example, people listen to specific songs when they feel a certain way or they may strongly relate to fictional characters in books, films or mythology. I like to let patients know they are free to bring art and music to session and explore the connection between it and their current or past experiences." - Carolyn Wheeler LMFT
PTS recovery also involves reclaiming the safety of your body. Many who live with PTS find themselves disconnected or dissociated from their bodies. This is often the result of having felt threatened and physically unsafe during traumatic events. Learning to have a relationship with the body, however, is critical for recovering from PTS.
In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.”
Art therapy is excellent for body work because clients manipulate artwork outside themselves. By externalizing difficult pieces of their trauma stories, clients begin to safely access their physical experiences and relearn that their bodies are a safe place.
“Art therapists in particular are trained to use media in all kinds of different ways and that might even be helping to get somebody more in their body,” Curtis says. “Just like art can bridge feelings and words, it can also be a bridge back into feeling grounded and safe in one’s body.”
Indigenous American Traditional Teachings
These teachings are inspired by the ancient Hoop of Life ceremonies of the Indigenous Americans, often called a Medicine Wheel. There are seven directions. East, South, West, North, Father Sky, Mother Earth, and You. Each direction symbolizes each stage of life, learning, challenges, and wisdom.
The circle and participants prepare for a “Sacred Path Ceremony” by lighting white sage (a purifying plant). Each stage of life is honored as a Journey. We invite and acknowledge those who have come before us and know who are still with us. All participants are encouraged to write down words and messages to send in prayer for themselves and their loved ones. It is believed that the elements, take our prayers and deliver them to the Great Creator. When put into a flame of fire, the smoke is evidence of the prayer rising to the heavens. Tobacco is then offered as a blessing for the gift of the answered prayer.
Our Tree of Life also gives an opportunity to write, converse and meditate with.
The ranch is home to many crystalized rocks known as "Grandfathers" carrying the wisdom of the ages. Searching and collecting a Grandfather that calls to you as a touchstone, a grounding tool, is highly encouraged.