What does PBJ Connections do?

PBJ Connections provides professional behavioral health therapy for children, adults and families through horses, counseling and nature. A licensed therapist partners with a trained horse professional in therapy sessions. Our treatment program uses horses to help clients with emotional and behavioral growth and learning. Some of our clients present with emotional and behavioral issues and some have mental health diagnoses. In all cases, the horses can help with healing. This model of therapy is called Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP).

Why is EAP effective?

EAP is facilitated by a licensed mental health professional, or therapist, and a trained horse professional along with one or more horses. Therapy sessions can be done in groups, with individuals, or with families. This type of therapeutic process is classified as experiential, meaning it is solution- focused, strengths-focused, and process-focused. When change occurs for the client, it is because they have experienced a difference in themselves, their communication, or their situation. Traditional therapy can do this as well; however, experiential therapy allows the client to experience and process the change instead of just discussing the change.

Why should I choose PBJ Connections for EAP?

PBJ Connections is a professionally run organization with access to two indoor facilities, so our services can be offered year round and regardless of weather. We also have access to a large herd of horses and donkeys with diverse personalities, which enable us to offer the right therapeutic match for each client. Many members of the herd have other jobs and all are supported through resources outside of the program.

PBJ Connections is the largest EAP organization in Central Ohio. With eight therapists and nine horse professionals we have flexibility in scheduling, as well as diverse facilitator personalities to match with our clients. Additionally, we offer office and telehealth therapy, wellness programs open to the publin and group programs for students, elders and people struggling with substance abuse.

Because of our diverse funding sources and our careful accounting, we have never had to turn down a client because of lack of funding, and we serve youth and families from all socio-economic levels. We accept funding through the following sources:

  • Donations made to our scholarship fund
  • Grant funding
  • Private pay
  • Community funding programs
  • Health insurance payments

What behavioral issues does PBJ Connections address?

A sample of clinical issues we have treated include:

  • ADHD
  • Grief
  • Abuse
  • Attachment Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Divorced Parents
  • Autism Spectrum Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Self-esteem
  • Depression

What counties does PBJ Connections clients come from?

PBJ Connections serves all of Central Ohio and currently works with clients from Franklin, Licking, Delaware, Fairfield, and Knox Counties. PBJ Connections has no restrictions on client residency.

How are families and parents involved in the therapy process at PBJ Connections?

Parents and families are encouraged to actively participate in treatment planning along with their children. Parents are also encouraged to participate in providing information through the evaluation process and studies that take place at PBJ Connections. Through these studies, we are able to develop more effective future programming.

In addition, family therapy sessions are available. PBJ Connections provides sessions for parents when appropriate and if the parents are willing to participate. This enables parents to get the support they may need to provide stability for their child.

What kind of certification does the staff at PBJ Connections have?

Our mental health professionals are licensed or independently licensed social workers or counselors. Mental health professionals have taken specific training for providing Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) sessions working with horses.

Our equine specialists have also gone through specific training to provide EAP, and they have years of documented horse experience. In any given session, at least one member of the treatment team holds an EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) certification. This is a national organization providing certification in a model of EAP that PBJ Connections provides.

How long is treatment at PBJ Connections?

Individual and family sessions can last from just a couple of meetings to long-term therapy, depending on the need of the family or client.

Does insurance cover any of the cost of treatment at PBJ Connections?

PBJ Connections is able to accept most major insurance carriers.

What does experiential therapy mean at PBJ Connections?

Experiential therapy is when clients are in a situation where they can actually experience behaviors and emotions, rather than just discuss them. The focus is on the present moment. In traditional talk therapy, clients are more likely to be discussing past events and emotions. Experiential therapy is process-focused rather than content-focused.

Does PBJ Connections do any traditional talk therapy?

Yes. We offer in person office visits and telehealth therapy.

What does a typical session at PBJ Connections look like?

The goal of every session is to work on therapeutic objectives. This can present in many different ways and is unique to our client’s needs.

We always have a licensed mental health professional and an equine specialist present in the sessions with our therapy horses and donkeys. The activities range from concrete tasks with goals to more abstract stories where the animals or objects in the session represent metaphors for struggles or supports in the client’s home, school or work environment. The activities during sessions provide an experience where client’s can practice necessary skills for coping with stressors in their lives, make creative choices about how to change their environment or build relationships that support their goals.

As you can imagine, this looks different for each client, because each client has unique and different needs. Some people need a place to grieve and share their story. Others find it helpful to practice skills to help them when they experience anger or anxiety. Being outside of the office and talk therapy setting allows people to practice and process in a hands on manner.

Where are PBJ Connections services provided?

We operate primarily out of PBJ Dressage, located in Pataskala; Taco Bella Farm, located in Johnstown; and The Ohio State Univerisity’s Equine Center in Dublin.

How do I enroll in PBJ Connections programs?

Call our office at 740-924-7543 or email

We do not require a referral, but we do have initial paperwork to be completed that helps assign you or your child to the right therapist.

What does PBJ Connections stand for? Where did the name originate?

PBJ Dressage (named after a few favorite horses) was the original horse training business run by the founders of PBJ Connections. When the therapy organization was developed, it was important to the founders to keep “PBJ” in the name. PBJ Connections became the natural name as our program works to help clients draw “connections” about how their behavior impacts those around them.

Anytime PBJ Connections is referred to in writing or formal speech, it is important to use the whole name: PBJ Connections. “Inc.” can be used at your discretion, unless filling out an official document.

The name is also associated with peanut butter and jelly, which is present at most of our events.

Is horse experience necessary for EAP to be effective?

No horse experience is necessary for this program. In fact, sometimes this can be an advantage. It is the process of interacting with the horses and the other people involved that is therapeutic. Riding is never utilized in our program. The goal of the program is not to teach riding or horse management skills, but rather to gain therapeutic insight into the self, nature, and the community.

In all of our sessions and programs, the treatment team is providing a safe environment for working with horses.

What is so special about using horses in therapy sessions?

Horses are prey animals, and humans are predators by nature. Both humans and horses are social animals, choosing to live in herds, groups or families. Therefore, the interaction between horses and humans is quite different from that between cats or dogs and humans. Horses react to emotional states in order to protect themselves and their herds and most horses are followers by nature, preferring to have a strong leader in charge of their herd. Because of these social interactions and instantaneous reactions to behavior and emotions, horses give obvious feedback to clients in real time.

Horses are also very large and powerful animals. They often bring up an array of emotions in humans that we cannot access without their help. The sense of awe when in the presence of horses and the sense of pride when we are able to communicate effectively with them is unattainable in other therapeutic settings. Horses often have an engaging and calming effect on clients as well. When a client comes to a session in a hyper, angry or agitated state of mind, they often calm down quickly when they are working directly with a horse.

The therapy staff is trained to recognize the reactions of both the horse and client allowing them to assist the client in the growth and learning process.

What types of horses work at PBJ Connections?

The horses in our program are picked for a variety of reasons, including personality, tolerance for this type of work, and safety around people. They are not chosen for their breeding, size, color, or training. Most of the horses are current or former riding/competition horses. We also work with a herd of  donkeys which react to clients like horses do, but are smaller, quieter, and less intimidating. Each horse and donkey has a unique personality and background that creates unique interactions with clients. Some horses may love being brushed; some will stand quietly; some are active and playful; some can be turned loose with clients and other horses; some enjoy playing games. We know the individual traits of each equine we work with, and we closely monitor their reactions throughout any given day or session.

Why should I donate to PBJ Connections?

We are local and we have very low administrative overhead.

Hopefully this list of FAQs has helped explain what PBJ Connections does and why it works so well. We are a non-profit organization that relies on donations, sponsorships, and grants to supplement a client’s ability to pay for services. We do not want to turn any child away who is in need of our help. Your funding helps make that possible.

PBJ Connections is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Your donations are tax deductible as determined by federal law. We hope you choose to support us.