In January, The Ranch treatment center in Tennessee launched equine-enriched therapy as part of its comprehensive treatment program for men struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental and emotional disorders. The program is housed in a newly renovated eight-bed residence on the beautiful Piney River, called River House.
The program features two equine-assisted therapy groups each week co-facilitated by a primary therapist and equine therapist, an additional equine group every other weekend, as well as opportunities for therapeutic and recreational riding. Therapists who work in the fascinating world of equine-assisted therapy have found that interacting with and caring for horses can provide valuable lessons in accountability, responsibility, communication and relationship-building — things that are often missing in the lives of people who have been derailed by drugs, alcohol, depression, loss and trauma.
“Every day I see clients who have a hard time relating to other people, but who are able connect with a horse and learn new ways of communicating and opening up,” reports Ben Cook, MA, a primary therapist at The Ranch. When clients arrive at The Ranch, they are assigned a horse to care for and to feed twice a day. Caring for and interacting with horses, Cook says, can offer unique lessons and insights about recovery.
The program was developed collaboratively with the clinical team, which includes the program’s equine therapist, Dede Beasley. Beasley is a master’s level clinician with more than three decades of experience in the field of equine-assisted therapy.
“Working with the horses helps our clients learn what it feels like to engage in selfless acts of service without an expectation of anything in return,” says Beasley. The process of working with horses can stir deeply buried emotions and reveal patterns in relationships and in communication.
“The horses can provide lessons in being direct and assertive and asking for what we want or need,” Beasley says.
In addition to equine-assisted therapy, the men’s program offers:
Two-hour group therapy sessions, four times a week
Weekly one-hour sessions with a primary therapy
Weekly one-hour sessions with a trauma therapist
Daily educational groups focused on trauma recovery, addiction recovery and spiritual development
Mindfulness/meditation groups several times each week
Multiple offsite meetings
Additional programming includes information and skills-building in nutrition, body image, fitness, wellness and 12-step principles, depending on the client’s needs.
River House is located on the site of the former Pinewood Plantation Mansion, and is adjacent to the barn that houses the horses used in therapy. The home features a new kitchen, new bathrooms and upgrades throughout. The treatment team at River House offers primary and extended care services for men suffering from emotional and mental health problems, including addiction, mood disorders and anxiety disorders.
About The Ranch Treatment Center
Established in 1999, The Ranch treatment center provides gender-separate therapeutic programs that address the underlying causes ...Read More
While popular belief portrays erectile dysfunction (ED) as a problem limited exclusively to the older generation, the latest research on the subject debunks this myth. In fact, an article published less than three weeks ago reported that “ED affects about 10 percent of men in each decade of life” – with 40 percent of men in their 40’s reporting erection problems. (1)
Despite the apparent prevalence of erection issues, ED rates in younger men have seldom been reviewed. An earlier pioneering study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, proved that men of any age can suffer the often devastating effects of ED. Researchers tested both sociodemographic and clinical differences between ED patients over 40 and those 40 and younger and linked ED to harmful lifestyle habits, finding that those under 40 smoked cigarettes and used illicit drugs more frequently. (2)
“Undoubtedly, a man’s overall health has a direct effect on sexual performance,” said Robert Drapkin, MD, board-certified physician in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology and Palliative Care.
Dr. Drapkin explained that understanding erectile dysfunction begins with knowing how the central and peripheral nervous systems, anatomy, emotions, hormones and blood flow all work together to create an erection. Sexual stimulation causes the release of chemicals that make the smooth muscles of the penis to relax and increase blood flow, which causes an erection. Once the chemicals are no longer released, the erection dissipates. “Any pathology along this process can cause problems relating to sexual health,” he said. “There are both emotional and physiological causes, but sexual performance problems are often a symptom of an unhealthy lifestyle.”
While commonly-prescribed pharmaceuticals such as Viagra are a popular approach to treating ED, Dr. Drapkin stresses that drugs are not the sole solution as erectile dysfunction “is very much the result of dietary patterns, and can be an early warning signal of more serious health risks such as heart attack or stroke, which are also diet- and lifestyle-related.” (3) Dr. Drapkin attests that along with many healthcare providers, the general public is unaware of the components of a healthy lifestyle, as demonstrated by the current diabetes epidemic and overuse of many prescription medicines in the U.S. His view is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimate that 69% of adults over the age of 20 are overweight or obese. (4)
To reduce the risk of developing erectile dysfunction, Dr. Drapkin recommends adopting a healthy lifestyle – including a vigorous exercise program – rather than solely relying on prescription medications such as Viagra which may help in treating erectile dysfunction along the way, but fail to address the need for the individual to improve their health.
“It’s important to address the causes of the issue, rather than accepting ironic marketing messages that state a medical approach is an acceptable alternative to a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Drapkin added.
Dr. Drapkin’s decades of experience, research and study in the fields of diet and exercise have proven beneficial in helping patients treat ...Read More