VIRGINIA BEACH — Untamed Spirit is a nonprofit therapeutic and educational program nestled in the heart of Pungo farmland.
The program uses a combination of conventional, art, equine and special needs focused therapies, said Barbara Ford, resident in counseling at Untamed Spirit.
Ford describes the farm as a space for people to come who haven’t found what they needed through conventional talk therapy.
Instead of coming to an office and sitting down to talk about their problems, people can explore their issues through unconventional methods, she said.
“We incorporate horses, nature and gardens in our therapy model,” she added.
By spending time in nature, focusing on another task like gardening or partnering with a horse for physical activities, it gets the kids off the electronics and allows them to take their mind off things for at least an hour or two, Ford said.
The horses themselves are used for a specific kind of therapy: Equine Therapy.
Activities within Equine Therapy can be using the horse as a canvas to paint on them, learning how to do what is a called a “heart hug” on a horse and therapeutic riding.
By drawing on a horse the children can explore their feelings and then wash them off, representing a clean slate, they can start over every day, Ford said.
She prefers that method of therapy because it has been beneficial for people with depression, anxiety, physical disabilities, autism and so on.
There are nine therapy horses used for the program.
Adults and children are welcome to the program, Ford said.
A day of healing
In the wake of the recent mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Ford is opening her facility to the families of those affected for what she calls “A Day of Healing” on June 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The event will be free and people can come learn about all the different kinds of therapy that exist in the community.
“We want people to know that we are here for them,” Ford said. “There’s no shame in asking for help.”
To learn more about Untamed Spirit, click here.
To find information about the day of healing, click here.