Horses make sense for kids in therapy

PATASKALA, Ohio — Child psychotherapy commonly takes place in a professional office.

But professional treatment also is delivered successfully from a dirt-floor riding arena inside a barn or outside in the pasture — with the help of horses.

The nonprofit organization PBJ Connections has been using equine-assisted therapy to help children since the group was founded in 2006.

The organization held an open house yesterday at its horse farm in Pataskala, where seven horses and four donkeys are stabled, to provide a glimpse of how the therapy works.

Licensed social workers and counselors work side by side with trained equine specialists, and the horses and donkeys, to treat children ages 6 to 18 who have mental-health or behavioral disorders.

Those may include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders, said Executive Director Holly Jedlicka.

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