LATROBE, PA – On Thursday, April 28, the Saint Vincent College Master of Science in Counselor Education program and the Equestrian program co-sponsored Ms. Shanna Aughenbaugh, LPC, and Ms. Samantha Boeser to present on Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. The presentation took place at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve.
Ms. Aughenbaugh is the owner of Divine Interactions Equine Facilitated Wellness practice in Apollo. As an entrepreneur in the mental health industry, Ms. Aughenbaugh combined her love of counseling and therapy with horses. Her practice has emerged in the western Pennsylvania area as a highly respected licensed mental health and equine therapy provider.
“Given that so many of our youth face traumas, abuse, attention disorders and several other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and PTSD, we decided to reach out to Ms. Aughenbaugh to explain the components and use of equine psychotherapy,” said Dr. Veronica Ent professor of education and Education Department Chairperson. “Ms. Aughenbaugh works with patients through horse-human interactions. Horses are naturally responsive to verbal and nonverbal cues and thus provide effective opportunities for therapy,” she continued.
During the seminar, participants had the opportunity to learn as well as see an example of therapy that involved a live horse. The Saint Vincent Equestrian Program provided a horse to be used for the demonstration, named Flagship Bask but fondly called Max. Max is a 24-year-old National Show Horse (Polish Arabian x Saddlebred).
“One of the demonstrated therapy techniques is using nontoxic and safe coloring tools to draw on a live horse,” said Dr. Ent. “According to Ms. Aughenbaugh and Ms. Boeser, this technique provides the opportunity for a patient to draw a representation of a trauma or problem in which they wish to unburden. When the horse is set free the patient’s emotional connection to the trauma or problem is released.”
The Saint Vincent College Equestrian Program offers coursework, riding, recreational and educational opportunities for all riding abilities. The program is designed for teaching horsemanship basics and for the advancement of skills. Students enjoy a private riding facility in which they can decompress from studies and reduce the stress that often is associated with college life.
The Saint Vincent College’s Master of Science degree in Counselor Education is enrolling now for fall 2022. This 39-credit program prepares students with a bachelor’s degree in any field to become a school counselor, certified in grades K-12. The accelerated master’s program focuses on state-of-the-art approaches and innovative methods for working with today’s youth.
For more information on this event or any of the sponsoring programs, please contact Dr. Ent at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-805-2096.
PHOTO 1: From left to right: Samantha Boeser, Max and Shanna Aughenbaugh
PHOTO 2: Max and students
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