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From horses to helpers in Naples at the David Lawrence Center

Posted at 10:40 PM, Nov 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-29 22:40:23-05

NAPLES, Fla. — When you think of therapy, you may think of the typical, sitting on a sofa talking to a psychiatrist, but for the David Lawrence Center, they are getting creative in how they service their clients.

"It has given, like a different approach to recovery or just a different feel," Terrell Gholston, David Lawrence Center Crossroads Program participant.

Through animal intervention therapy, the Naples Therapeutic Riding Center is bringing its unique form of therapy to these clients.

"It can be hard to share emotions; it can be hard to connect with the staff; to share what's going on and these animals help unlock the hearts of our participants in ways that we couldn't have dreamed,” said Nancy Dauphinais, David Lawrence Center Chief Operating Officer.

Through grant programs and discounts from groups like Naples Therapeutic Riding Center, Deuphinais says is what is making this all possible.

According to Christian Vanorsdale, Naples Therapeutic Riding Center mini program coordinator, this program brings healing to all who participate. She notes, that horses can feel a human heartbeat from as far as 8 feet away, which gives clinicians the ability to dive deep into participants' feelings.

“Your horse might not respond the way you expected it to or it might be feeding off whatever emotion you bring to the arena that day," said Vanorsdale. "Those large horses in that program really allow them to see a completely different side as well.”

Bringing the ability to really see how people are doing based on their horses' reactions while giving participants a safe space.

“Some are more easygoing, some are stubborn, and you'll find that outside like in life you have to adapt to your surroundings and adapt to who you're around,” said Morgan Depies, David Lawrence Center Crossroads Program participant.

“River, he was he was very stubborn," said Gholston. "It was almost like one of those moments when I wanted to have road rage but I couldn't. I had to have compassion and love on River anyway, I kind of understand what he was going through."