For a second year, the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District is continuing a partnership with a local program to offer equine assisted therapy to students and staff who choose to participate.
In collaboration with The Equine Healing Collaborative based in Carmel Valley, CA, workshops and retreats are offered as part of the district's multi-tiered systems of support.
This school year, teachers and staff had the opportunity to sign up for equine support groups held on Sundays from October 17-December 12.
During those sessions, teachers and staff learned hands-on horsemanship skills and benefitted from group support in a therapeutic setting.
The Equine Healing Collaborative Executive Director Jennifer Fenton said she started the non-profit program about six years ago. Fenton says all of her therapists are licensed clinicians.
“We do what’s called equine assisted psychotherapy, which means that we provide psychotherapy, metal health services. However, what we include is we actually include a horse in that process," Fenton said.
In 2020, MPUSD Mental Health Therapist Meaghan Giles says she was working with the collaborative and thought partnering with the program could benefit students and staff. From that idea, a partnership was formed.
“I was able to see about seven clients out here in-person during that time and then as we returned to the school year, a few of them have still continued through that,” Giles said.
So far MPUSD has been able to offer three 8-week sessions, develop student referrals to the program, and bring horses into school campuses for student interaction and meaningful discussion about mental health.
We have more information on this program here.