Sometimes, life's complexities call for an out-of-the-box solution.
- Who offers it: Transitions Equine ➸ transitionsequine.net
- Who it helps: Individuals, couples, groups, teens and families with
emotional or relationship concerns,
- Why it’s successful: Assignments using “highly intuitive” horses in an enclosed area force clients to “think and act outside of the box,” says founder Karen Mahan, a licensed clinical social worker. “Clients process these experiences internally and with staff to clarify the discoveries about themselves and new solutions to old problems and patterns.”
- Who offers it: Center for Veterans Issues ➸ cvivet.org
- Who it helps: Homeless veterans, along with middle-school students at Texas Bufkin Christian Academy.
- Why it’s successful: Gardening spurs self-sufficiency and healthy eating. “If we can take the focus off of ourselves one time, we’re more apt to do a better job and reflect on a cause that is bigger than ourselves,” says Berdie Cowser, who runs the Milwaukee center’s transitional housing programs.
Stand-up paddleboarding therapy
- Who offers it: Rogers Memorial Hospital ➸ rogershospital.org
- Who it helps: Adults with mood disorders and eating disorders, teens with anxiety disorders, and addictions affecting all ages.
- Why it’s successful: The hospital has access to Upper Nashotah Lake, meaning therapy can easily move outside. Experiential therapist Mark Germano paddles alongside patients on their boards. “You’re basically standing on top of the water. That small perspective can generalize into a larger one.” This fear-embracing feat often results in more self-confidence, and positive interactions with family and in one’s social life.
- Who offers it: LifeStriders ➸ lifestriders.org
- Who it helps: Children (as young as 2 years old) and adults with cognitive, emotional, physical and relational challenges.
- Why it’s successful: “The movement of the horse stimulates the language centers of the brain,” says program manager Chrystal Schipper. The program takes its cues from physical therapy, occupational therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. “A lot of it is dealing with life skills,” says Schipper, and the bonding between horse and rider plays an important role.
Yoga for Weight Balance
- Who offers it: Haleybird Studios ➸ haleybirdstudios.com
- Who it helps: Women seeking the root causes of weight issues (stress, unprocessed emotions and negative subconscious beliefs).
- Why it’s successful: “It’s kind of like the Weight Watchers for yoga – we’re on this journey together,” says instructor Erin Alexander, who encourages students to journal in each class and practice a mindful intention each week. Yoga poses detoxify, twist and strengthen the body, and rid participants of stress and a shame-inducing cycle that often triggers weight gain.
Adaptive alpine skiing and snowboarding
- Who offers it: Southeastern Wisconsin Adaptive Ski Program ➸ sewasp.org
- Who it helps: People with physical disabilities, as well as people who are blind and/or deaf.
- Why it’s successful: Skilled instructors and modified equipment remove barriers that might keep participants from enjoying a day on the slopes at Alpine Valley Ski Resort near East Troy. Mono-ski and bi-ski chairs, as well as outrigger-style ski poles and tethering systems are available to assist with descents. Equipment and techniques are tailored to individual needs, helping forge self-confidence and independence.