Nature and Animal Assisted Therapies
At Hope Tree, we use holistic therapies which include animals and nature to assist in the healing process. These therapies include Nature Assisted Therapy (NAT), Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), and specifically at our Hastings location, Equine Assisted Mental Health (EAMH).
Nature Assisted Therapy (NAT) is the use of plants, natural materials, and the outdoor environment to improve mental and/or physical health. NAT covers a variety of activities. These include therapeutic horticulture such as gardening, forest bathing, and plant-related activities to improve wellbeing and wilderness or outdoor adventure excursions.
Both of our locations have serene and comforting outdoor spaces for NAT. In Waterloo, IA, you may choose to have a session outdoors on our 10-acre farm. Areas for sessions include a large pasture area, our organic garden, or our shaded, tree-filled front yard. At our Hastings location, outdoor session space is available for NAT and/or AAT at our partner location Innisfree Farm.
Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) includes animals as modalities in therapeutic treatment, both as goal-directed interventions as well as natural processes. The presence of a therapy animal in counseling can lead to improved social, emotional, and cognitive functioning. With the inclusion of animals, a natural experience is created for the client, which can increase relaxation and healing. Research has shown that by connecting with the animal, through petting, talking, and interacting with it, a client can experience improved mental health. Wilson (1994) suggested that seeing animals in a calm peaceful or natural state can signal feelings of safety and security which in turn may trigger a state where healing and personal change are possible.
Equine Assisted Mental Health or Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is the combined use of horses, a licensed therapist, and a horse specialist working with clients to address various individual psychotherapy treatment goals. EAMH is a form of AAT. Through the inclusion of the horse the client can achieve greater self-awareness, confidence, and insight about their own lives and issues in the therapy process. EAMH is for children and adults. EAMH is currently available at our Hastings, MN location only.
Founder Sarah Kiani says, “Interacting with horses in therapy allows deep growth to occur by increasing self-awareness while building confidence due to the highly sensitive and intuitive nature of horses.”
To see what other traditional and foundational therapies we offer, please read more here.