Maybe it IS All in Your Head! The Neurobiologicals of ADHD

For years there has been lots of discussion about the ’causes’ of ADHD. Some believe that it is poor diet or other environmental exposures. Perhaps poor parenting. Maybe it is just ‘boys being boys’ (though, of course this doesn’t account for the many girls diagnosed with ADHD). And, there are those that contend that medications given to treat ADHD may just be making things worse.

However, new research supports some very real neurobiological differences in those living with ADHD.  Psychology Today shares some of the results of a government funded study that considered the ‘brain volume differences between a group of young 4-5 year old children with ADHD who have never been exposed to ADHD medications and a group of typically developing controls’. The results indicate ‘there do exist real brain-based differences that are evident at an early age.’ These findings are pretty interesting, but leads me to wonder, if we could dig deeper, would we find that the cause of these brain differences were in fact due to some type of genetic change related to environmental exposure. I think we are a long way from having all the answers, but new research provides clues and suggests treatment strategies that we can put in play.

On a positive note, there is some good evidence that Equine Therapy may be linked to functional brain changes in children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

We see it in the work we do! While children as young as 4 learn the simple tasks of leading, grooming, tacking-up and riding a horse they are also improving focus, decreasing impulsity, building self-confidence/self-esteem, improving problem solving skills and helping with emotional regulation (and so much more!)  Clients are highly motivated, as they want to be able to be successful and spend time with ‘their’ horse.

Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy is a unique program, as we focus on social, emotional and behavioral growth and learning, as well as providing Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR), a mental health intervention, through work with horses. Another unique feature of our program is that not only do our clients work with their horses on the ground, building mutually respectful and bonded relationships, but they face a whole new set of experiences and challenges once they mount and begin to learn to ride.

We are here to help. If you or someone one you know are struggling with ADHD or other social, emotional, behavioral or mental health issues, give us a call or send us an email. We can schedule a visit for you. You will tour the ranch, meet our wonderful herd, have an opportunity to share what you are dealing with and to learn more about how we might be able to help.

 

Posted in Addiction, ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Asperger's, Children's issues, Depression, In my opinion, Mental Health, OCD, ODD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Teens | Leave a comment

How Clients Learn Resiliency Through Work With Horses

Not surprisingly, I could give you a long list of the things people can learn through work with horses, but today I want to share with you some thoughts on ‘resiliency’.

In this article by Understood for learning & attention issues, they talk about what resiliency means, why it is important and how we can help kids and teens learn to be resilient.

They talk about exposing kids to challenges. From day one at N.E.A.T. our clients are dealing with challenges! The learn how to halter and lead a horse. The horse may be tall. The horse may be busy eating when a client goes to halter them. We do encourage our clients to try, at times offering advice, but we don’t just do it for them. We love it when they ask for help, but may also push them to keep trying ‘I know know you can do this’.

Whether working on the ground or riding, there will be consequences for the choice that clients make. A client may be distracted and looking somewhere else as they try to circle a barrel and all of sudden they find themselves ‘off track’ on an obstacle course. We remind them that if they stay focused and look where they want their horse to go they will have better results and encourage them to try again. Or perhaps they are working on trotting, but every time they get going they pull back on the reins and their horse stops. We talk about how the horse is getting mixed messages ‘your legs are telling them to go but your hands are telling them to stop. Your horse is not being ‘bad’. They are just confused about what you want’. (This is a perfect opportunity to talk about how we communicate our needs/wants appropriately!)

By offering opportunities to try, to succeed or have challenges, to ask for/receive and accept guidance and by reviewing the things that have not worked well and those that have, through work with horses, our clients build their resiliency.

So, if you or someone you know are struggling with the complexities of daily life, we are here to help! Call or email us and we will schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our wonderful herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

Posted in Addiction, ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Asperger's, Autism, Bipolar, Children's issues, Depression, Eating Disorders, Grief, Mental Health, OCD, ODD, Other challenges, PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Schizophrenia, Seniors Program, Sensory processing issues, Teens | Leave a comment

ADHD not Always What it Seems

We see them all the time. Those kiddos who just can’t sit still. They are up and bouncing around. They are usually ‘off task’ and can be dangerously impulsive. We may quickly label them as struggling with ADHD, but there may be other things going on.

Though I’m not sure about the ‘wrestling as therapy’ talked about in this ‘The Baltimore Sun’ article, I am completely sold on the case the article makes that many times, kids/teens diagnosed with ADHD are actually struggling with issues related to trauma/PTSD. Similar symptoms may include:

– Inattention
– Distraction
– Restless
– Impatient
– Impulsive
– Anger
– Sleeping problems
– Poor memory
– Poor concentration
– Anxiety
– Depression
– Low self-esteem
– Addiction problems
– Shame

(Untapped Brilliance).

So, we want to be mindful and aware when we make a diagnosis of ADHD. We may actually need to be addressing issues of trauma/PTSD.

The good news is that work with horses can be helpful in both cases. We may work on improving the ability to stay focused and on task. We will work on self-soothing and self-calming strategies. Through work with horses we help our clients become more comfortable with faced with decisions. They learn to stop, consider, weighing outcomes and maybe finding a different way to get the job done. We also look at improving self-confidence and building/rebuilding self-esteem and of course, we encourage clients to form a trusting and mutually respectful relationship with their horse.

If you or someone you know is struggling, seek help and answers. We are here to be part of a comprehensive treatment team. Call or email us and we will schedule a visit for you to the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our incredible herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help.

 

 

Posted in ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Children's issues, Depression, Mental Health, ODD, PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Teens | Leave a comment

Work With Horses Facilitating Corporate Team Building

Most of my posts are about the social, emotional, behavioral and mental health work we do at Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy, but we offer even more!

This story on Global News talks about a program in Toronto that is working with horses to ‘teach team building, wellness, coping and leadership skills…’and so much more!

At Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy we believe that horses have something to teach all of us!  If you are looking for a unique and powerful way to engage and motivate your team, give us a call or send us an email. We will schedule a time to meet with you and discuss what your goals are for your team and share how we can facilitate them through work with horses.  We offer a variety of scheduling options from a couple of hours learning about to horse and herd behavior and how it relates to being a cohesive team, to ongoing work that helps with bigger objectives.

We are conveniently located just 20 min south of Reno and 10 min north of Carson and will be happy to share more about this unique and effective approach to growing/building a strong team.

Posted in Other challenges, Other programs, Team Building | Leave a comment

Depression is NOT a ‘One Size Fits All’ Scenario

Depression is ‘an often-crippling disease that affects nearly 15 percent of adults worldwide’ (according to the World Health Organization).

When we or someone we know struggles with ‘Depression’ we are hoping that there is a simple solution for feeling better. Medication, time with a therapist or other interventions are all solutions, but sadly, none of these works for everyone. Now we have a better understanding of why.

In this LiveScience article we get a look at the results of a very large study of ” more than 135,000 patients with major depressive disorder(s)” compared to “nearly 350,000 people with no depression”.  This study was looking at ‘gene variants’ and found over 44 of them implicated in depression, “each one contributing in some small way to a person’s risk of depression. Thirty of the gene variants had not been identified in any previous study”. In other words, Depression can be an extremely individual and variable condition.

Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy is here to help. We are one intervention that may offer at least a partial solution for those struggling with depression. Through work with horses and, in partnership with our team of Qualified Mental Health Associates, we address each client’s individual issues. We work under the supervision of a Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor and in partnership with other members of each client’s therapeutic team, we create a road map to healing and a happier future.

If you or someone you know is living with depression, seek help, understanding that you may have to try a variety of things before you find what you need to feel better. We would be happy to have you visit the ranch. We will introduce our wonderful herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and will share how we might be able to help. Call or email us to schedule a visit.

 

Posted in Addiction, Anxiety Disorders, Bipolar, Children's issues, Depression, Eating Disorders, Grief, Mental Health, PTSD, Seniors Program, Teens | 2 Comments

ADHD is a Family Issue

When a member of a family is struggling with something, it often the case that the entire family struggles.

Things can be challenging for the person who has ADHD, but the family is also required to make all kinds of adjustments to make life work for everyone. From getting up and getting out the door in the morning, to getting homework done and going to bed, there are a myriad of accommodations that may need to be made. Those with ADHD can require more direction to get simple daily tasks done, so parents may find they have little time for themselves or for siblings. There are school meeting, such as IEPs and often other appointments that need to be managed. Frustration, resentment, depression, exhaustion. So many feelings about what should be a wonderful and joyous time in a families life. This is a very good article in The New York Times about the challenges faced by families living with ADHD.

At Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy, we strive to support the entire family. Yes, the child or teen is the one working with a QMHA (Qualified Mental Health Associate) and a horse on being focused, less impulsive, making decisions, self-soothing and often so much more. However, we are also an empathetic ear for parents, offering understanding and concrete suggestions for strategies that they can try at home and being there to discuss how it all is going. When scheduling allows, we attend IEP meetings so that the parents feel that they have someone on their side of the table who can help them advocate for what their child needs to be successful and when necessary, we can also offer additional resources, such as PEP and Sierra Regional Services.

We are here to help. We work with children as young as 4, teens and even adults. If you, your child or someone else you know are struggling, give us a call or send us an email so that we can schedule a visit for you. We will show you around the ranch, introduce out wonderful herd to you, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we may be able to help. Take the first step today.

 

Posted in ADHD, Asperger's, Autism, Children's issues, Depression, Mental Health, OCD, ODD, Teens | Leave a comment

How Horses Help with Mental Health Issues

Slowly but surely, all across the world, more and more people are coming to understand the unique way that work with horses can help those struggling with social, emotional, behavioral and mental health issued, find a path to healing and happiness.

In this story/news clip from ABC New South Wales, Psychologist Sam Tassini talks about why she has incorporated horses into her practice. The article goes on to say that more research is needed, but that the practice of Equine Therapy is showing a lot of promise.

At Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy, through work with horses, we provide social, emotional and behavioral growth and learning, as well as a mental health intervention called Psychosocial Rehabilitation. We get referrals from teachers, parents/caregivers, therapists. When providing mental health interventions we are part of a treatment team that includes the client’s therapist. We are an ancillary treatment that amplifies the goals that the licensed therapist has set for the client. These goals may include increasing focus, decreasing anxiety and much more. As stated in the article, horses are really able to help in so many ways. When we focus on the social, emotional and behavioral component we establish goals with parents, caregivers, or, when working with adults, based on the client’s own specific wishes. These goals may be to increase mindfulness or to help build/rebuild self-confidence, among others.

Our team is here to help. Our staff are PATH Certified instructors and Qualified Mental Health Associates, working under the supervision of a Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor and of course our incredible herd of horses!

If you or someone you know is struggling with life’s challenges, call us or send us an email. We will schedule a visit to the ranch and introduce our herd. We will learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we might be able to help.

Posted in Addiction, ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Asperger's, Autism, Bipolar, Children's issues, Depression, Eating Disorders, Grief, Mental Health, OCD, ODD, Other challenges, PTSD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Schizophrenia, Seniors Program, Sensory processing issues, Team Building, Teens, The horses | Leave a comment

New PTSD Study Highlights Potential Benefits of Certain Therapies

We are always looking for research that supports the long term benefits of given therapeutic interventions. In this study, reported in ScienceDaily, it is reported “Both civilians and military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reap long-term benefits from psychotherapies used for short-term treatment, according to a new study from Case Western Reserve University”.

The study looks at two types of interventions: trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy. The article goes on to explain, “Broadly, cognitive behavioral therapy reduces symptoms by changing patient behavior and addressing maladaptive thoughts. In particular, exposure therapy-considered the current standard for PTSD treatment-exposes patients to feared stimuli under deliberate, controlled, safe conditions.”

When you look at the goals of Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) you can see that they would also address the “changing patient behavior and addressing maladaptive thoughts” listed under ‘Cognitive Behavioral’ therapy. This is a partial list of the goals of PSR:

  • Behavior Management Skills
  • Effective Communication Skills
  • Problem Identification and problem solving skills
  • Developing skills to become emotionally connected to themselves and to others
  • Identifying right from wrong

We see the results every day with the clients we serve, but it is always nice to have see new research that supports what we do! Through work with horses, we help children, teens and adults struggling with PTSD and many other social, emotional, behavioral and mental health issues.

If you or someone you know is dealing with PTSD, seek help. We are here to be part of a comprehensive treatment plan. We will work with your clinician to provide ancillary support services intended to supplement the work you and your clinician are doing.  We would be happy to schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will show you around, introduce our incredible herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and will share how we may be able to help. Call or email to set up a visit.

 

Posted in Addiction, Anxiety Disorders, Children's issues, Depression, Mental Health, PTSD, Teens | Leave a comment

An Exciting Look at What CAN be Done to be Inclusive

The number of people diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum has increased significantly. We must find ways to help these individuals lead healthy, happy lives. This starts with providing early intervention services, but is really a lifelong process of creating situations where they can find inclusion and are able to reach their highest potential. It is exciting to see new opportunities for each person to have a happy, healthy and productive life!

This Forbes article looks at what is happening in the workplace to create an ‘Autism-Friendly’ environment. The article shares that there are many steps, from helping those on the spectrum to develop real skills, such as writing a resume, to interview, but that this is only a small part of what needs to happen. There are physical accommodations as well as training for all staff on what it means to be someone with developmental differences and how to make them feel safe and valued. The article really is inspiring in that it gives good, solid examples of how we can make room for everyone!

There are many ways to help those on the spectrum become more comfortable with the world at large AND to help neuro-typicals understand and accept that different does not mean wrong or bad. Early interventions are very important and at Nevada Equine Assisted Therapy, we work with children as young as 4. We may focus on staying on task, learning and implementing self-soothing skills, learning to read social cues ‘Ruby has her ears back and her head is very high. What do you think that means?’ and how to deal with a variety of sensory situations (smells, the way a horse’s coat feels) among other things! At any one time, we may have 2-4 clients working side by side, with their own Qualified Mental Health Associate, so clients may also learn about appropriate social interactions. Work with horses can be a powerful intervention!

N.E.A.T. works with children, teens and even adults on the spectrum. Through work with horses we want to help each client reach their full potential. If you know someone on the spectrum who might benefit from what we have to offer, call or email and we will schedule a time for you to visit. We will show you around, introduce the horses, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we might be able to help.

 

 

Posted in Asperger's, Autism | Leave a comment

Veterans Benefit From Partnering With Horses

It is so promising to see someone who believes in the healing power of horses investing in providing concrete evidence for all to see!

We see it in the work we do. Not just with Vets, but with kids, teens and adults who have come out of traumatic home situations. They are/have been in foster care or adopted after being born into chaos. People who have lived through trauma. School shootings. Death of a loved one. Lived through domestic abuse/violence. Sometimes as a victim. Sometimes as a witness. They have been attached/assaulted at gun-point. At knife-point. With the treat of violence. There was an accident. They were injured. We are really just starting to understand that there are many, many triggers for PTSD.

The News-Review is providing a look into a study, being funded by Earle Mack. The Man O’ War Project started in 2015, Columbia University Irving Medical Center,  to do a long-term clinical study that would measure the efficacy of equine therapy on military vets suffering from PTSD, and then create a standardized equine therapy protocol.  Yuval Neria, co-director of the study and director of Columbia’s PTSD program views “horses as the ideal companion to interact with military PTSD sufferers”. This is in part due to “both horses and military PTSD suffers tend to be “hypervigilant and overaroused” creating a very interesting dynamic. We will be watching for the findings, which should be released later this year.

We know that the result will show what we personally know to be true. Horse are incredible at helping people with PTSD find a path to health and healing. We see it. We live it in the work we do. Our treatment team consists of Qualified Mental Health Associates (QMHA)/PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructors, working under the supervision of a Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor AND of course our incredible horses. We are here to be a part of a comprehensive treatment program.

If you, or someone you know, are struggling with PTSD we are here to help. Call of email and we will schedule a time for you to visit the ranch. We will take you on a tour, introduce our wonderful herd, learn more about what you are dealing with and share how we might be able to help.

Posted in Addiction, Anxiety Disorders, Bipolar, Depression, Grief, Mental Health, PTSD | Leave a comment