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Equine therapy

Part of being a Connected Campus is fostering the health – and, particularly, mental health – of our students. Between increased mental health awareness in today’s culture and prolonged isolation or fear related to the COVID-19 pandemic, TCU’s Counseling & Mental Health Center has stepped front and center.

Among the many programs included in TCU’s Comprehensive & Collaborative Care Model is the equine therapy program, back up and running this fall for its second year. The program – offered through TCU partner Freedom Reigns Counseling at no additional cost to students – consists of therapy groups and educational workshops.

“Sometimes when people have gone through traumatic things, individual counseling isn’t always going to be the best choice,” explained Eric Wood, director of counseling and mental health at TCU. “Equine therapy allows a structured way for them to process that without being under the spotlight of counseling. It’s very well documented to be effective for trauma.”

TCU Magazine’s Fall cover story is on TCU’s Counseling & Mental Health Center and addresses the positive effects of the equine therapy program. One of the lessons horses teach is to live in the present.

“They’re always in the present,” Lesli Figueiredo, who leads the sessions, told the magazine. “They don’t go forward in time and have anxiety based on the future, and they don’t go backwards in time and have depression based on the past. They experience all of their emotions in real time.”

This is one of multiple themes introduced at the therapy sessions. In the end, however, the ultimate goal is to reach students using proven and innovative ways. As Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. mentioned recently in his Candid Conversation video on mental health, TCU offers several other programs to assist students, such as peer support groups, FrogConnect groups and more. 

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