United Counseling Service (UCS) has partnered with Rhythm Hollow Stables in North Bennington to introduce EquiLateral™, an equine-assisted therapy program that combines two well-regarded treatment protocols: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Psychotherapy (EMDR) and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP).
EMDR is an eight-phase program that helps children and adults address mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), substance abuse and addiction, and more. EAP is based on the precept that healthy relationships are the foundation of healing and recovery. Using EAP, clients learn to communicate and develop a rapport with horses, who are highly sensitive to human energy and actions. The combined program encourages a high degree of self-agency in the therapeutic process.
Lori Vadakin, UCS’s Director of Outpatient and Substance Use Services is certified as an EMDR Equilateral Therapist. She also provides clinical consultations at the barn to other clinicians who are learning EMDR. “The relationships that clients build with the horse is so meaningful and impactful,” says Vadakin. “To be able to provide this experience is invaluable. The horses provide the clients with a feeling of calm and a sense that they can cope with anything.” One of Vadakin’ s clients shared her experience using EquiLateral. “I am calmer, I am not worrying a lot, I am leaving everything that bothers me behind, and I am right here with the horse.”
United Counseling Service’s goal is to continue with this therapy and expand the program as additional clinicians obtain the requisite certification. Additionally, the agency hopes to offer both individual and group sessions in the future.
United Counseling Service provides outpatient counseling and addictions services, emergency mental health services, extensive rehabilitation services, home and school-based services, employment services for people recovering from mental illness or with developmental disabilities and Early Childhood Services. In response to COVID-19, UCS has developed a warm line available Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm for anyone living in Bennington County—we are here for you! For more information visit ucsvt.org or call 802.442.5491.