Local specialty hospital welcomes therapy animals

Carrier Clinic® now has two horses, two miniature donkeys, and two goats on campus full time for animal therapy

Carrier Clinic’s “I AM FREED” barn opened its doors in November of 2016 with the long-term goal to permanently house horses so that Equine Assisted Therapy could be readily available to all patients at the NJ behavioral health center. That goal was met when two horses, Faith and Hope, moved in at the end of December 2017; the goal was surpassed when they were joined by two miniature donkeys, Lily and Sally, and two goats, Hazel and Chyna, who also arrived at the end of December 2017.

“Carrier Clinic believes in the power of alternative therapies such as Equine Assisted Therapy,” said Carrier Clinic President & CEO Donald Parker. “With these six animals now living at the ‘I AM FREED’ barn, what started as a program for the teens in our East Mountain Youth Lodge is now something that can be offered regularly to all of our patients. We are grateful to the generous donors who have made this possible.”

For over 10 years, horses have visited Carrier Clinic’s campus to participate in Equine Assisted Therapy with East Mountain Youth Lodge residents. In 2016, a grant from The Freed Foundation enabled Carrier Clinic, the NJ psychiatric hospital and recovery center, to build a barn. The new structure was named the “I AM FREED” barn in honor of Elizabeth Freed, president of The Freed Foundation, for her commitment to equine therapy at Carrier Clinic since the program’s inception. Additional contributions have now enabled animals to be a permanent part of Carrier Clinic’s campus, including the generous contribution of the horses and goats by Kathy Krupa of Horsetime, Inc.

On Wednesday, January 10, once the animals had the opportunity to get acclimated to their new home, Carrier Clinic East Mountain Youth Lodge Clinical Director Sarah Geser coordinated a “welcome party” for staff to have the opportunity to come meet the animals that will now be available to all patients on the campus.

“Carrier Clinic’s East Mountain Youth Lodge has utilized an experiential therapy model for almost two decades, incorporating a variety of activities into the therapeutic programming such as specific group games and challenges, low ropes course, art, music and drama that all involve experiences that can then be processed in a therapeutic manner,” said Sarah Geser, Carrier Clinic East Mountain Youth Lodge Clinical Director. “The equine therapy is a fantastic addition to this model. The animals provide these experiences, along with many other benefits. In addition to the structured equine therapy groups, just being around the animals can provide some comfort to the youth and adult patients. We plan to involve the youth in some horsemanship training and in the care process of the animals, both which will offer rich therapeutic opportunities. Having our own barn and animals on grounds is the result of much dedication over many years by Anthony Cartusciello, M.A., Dr. Claire Marsh, and Donna Zaleski during their time at Carrier Clinic, in addition to those mentioned above, and we extend much gratitude to their efforts.”

For additional information about Equine Assisted Therapy/Animal Assisted Therapy, view our article and video on this topic.

Learn More About Animal Assisted Therapy

About Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic

Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic is a nonprofit Central Jersey behavioral health care provider, specializing in psychiatric and addiction treatment. Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic includes an inpatient psychiatric hospital, detoxification and rehabilitation centeradolescent and teen residential facility, and a fully accredited middle and high school for students classified emotionally disturbed. For more information about Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic and its services contact us through our website or call 1-800-933-3579.

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