ARGENTA — Kris Williamson and her horse, Sonny, have a great relationship.
They are able to communicate without saying a word. When they spend time together, Williamson finds her peace. “It’s just him and I,” she said. “Horses can be very intimidating, but he calms me down.”
Williamson has owned Sonny for almost a year. While growing up, she had horses in her life and felt comfortable around them. After a medication change, Williamson developed panic attacks. She began to fear Sonny and most every situation in her life and outside her home.
“The non-real world became really real to me,” she said. “And I became very scared of my horse.”
Williamson was diagnosed with severe anxiety panic disorder. Patients with the disorder think ahead of every situation and believe something bad is going to happen.
“Anxiety plays a lot of mind games,” Williamson said. “It is pretty frightful.”
Fortunately, Sonny was being boarded at Stout Horse Farms. Kim Brown is an instructor on the family farm. She is also an equine expert with Healthy Strides, an equine-assisted psychotherapy practice.
Brown works with Dan Giers, a licensed psychotherapist, to help diagnose and treat patients with various disorders and mental illnesses, including depression, addiction and post traumatic stress disorder.
“Even to some affect, bipolar disorder,” Giers said. “Also OCD, eating disorders, and we provide family counseling.
Brown and Giers said their team approach makes a difference in their brand of therapy. While Brown is watching the horse, Giers is watching the client.
“It is unbelievable how fast you get to the truth,” Giers said. “In the office, it could take weeks or months to get there.”
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