Dallas-based Equest is using horses to help kids with pandemic PTSD

Morning After

DALLAS, Texas (KDAF) — Kids are often creatures of habit, and the pandemic has upended things so much that some kids are starting to display symptoms of PTSD from all of the stress.

Equest in Dallas is an equine therapy provider that has a safe solution to help kids cope during these difficult times.

PTSD can result from traumatic events, but also other instances of actual or threatened death.

Leslie West, the counseling program manager at Equest, explains how this affects kids. She says “it also must be accompanied by a presence of four symptom clusters. That includes 1.) re-experiencing the event through nightmares or flashbacks 2.) Avoiding reminders of the trauma, what we often refer to as triggers 3.) negative thoughts and emotions about the self, others, the world and 4.) hyperarousal.”

According to West, PTSD can often be misdiagnosed in children as something like ADHD.

So how does work with horses help both kids and adults manage?

“The horses are such fabulous therapeutic partners,” says West, “because they are so in tune with their environment that they can mirror back to us what we are experiencing even if we’re really good at hiding it, if we’re good at hiding our anxiety, hiding our depression. They can sense it and give it back to us.”

Seeing this play out in the horses’ reaction increases our awareness. That awareness is power.

“It’s all about being able to reclaim power. It’s a powerful experience to partner wil a horse, build that relationship, and be able to have some influence over a 1200 pound animal.”

For more information on their programs, visit Equest.org

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