Shining Hope Farms’ Therapy Services Program

Therapy Services Offered

We offer physical, occupational, speech, and mental health clinical therapy services, in a traditional clinic setting, as well as in an enriching nature-based setting. We also offer equine movement and interaction where appropriate.

“Hippotherapy” is a term frequently used to describe when a therapist utilizes equine movement as a treatment tool in OT, PT, and SLP, however it is not a standalone therapy service.

Although our mental health counseling sessions do not typically take place on the horse, equine intervention is often utilized when appropriate. 

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Physical Therapy

Addresses the motor needs of each patient to promote functional outcomes in skill areas related to gross motor ability such as sitting, standing and walking.


Occupational Therapy

Addresses fine motor control, sensory integration, feeding skills, attentional skills and functional daily living skills in a progressively challenging manner.

Speech Language Pathology

Generates effective remediation of communication disorders and promotes functional communication outcomes.

Our therapists that incorporate hippotherapy are members of The American Hippotherapy Association (AHA). The AHA is a group of medical professionals (physical, occupational, speech therapists, and mental health counselors) and others who are interested in the use of equine movement as a treatment strategy. AHA is an affiliate partner of PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International), a national non-profit organization.

OT, PT, and SLP are offered in both a clinic and natural environment utilizing the highly motivating tools of this setting for therapeutic rehabilitation, skill building, and adaptation. Therapists may also utilize equine movement and related activities for appropriate patients. Once patients have met their individualized physical, cognitive, and/or communication goals, therapists will facilitate goal maintenance. This will include a discharge plan with family education and suggested community engagement activities. Some patients continue on to participate in other activities at Shining Hope Farms including volunteering, work-based projects, therapeutic/adaptive horseback riding, horticulture, or animal care.


When directed by a specially trained therapist, the equine’s stride provides beneficial multidimensional movement, which is variable, rhythmic, and repetitive. The horse provides a dynamic base of support, making it an excellent tool for increasing trunk control, balance, postural strength, weight bearing, and motor planning. It offers well-modulated sensory input to vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, and visual channels.

When a patient is sitting on the horse, the horse’s walking gait facilitates movement responses remarkably similar to the human gait. The effects of equine movement on postural control, sensory systems, and motor planning can be used to improve coordination, timing, grading of responses, respiratory control, sensory integration, and attention.

Mental Health Counseling

Shining Hope Farms’ mental health counseling incorporates equine interaction, a process in which a licensed mental health professional (psychologist, social worker or counselor) working with an appropriately credentialed equine professional, partners with suitable equine(s) to address psychotherapy goals set forth by the mental health professional and the patient.

We are in network with Partners Behavioral Health Management, Alliance Health, all managed care plans, plus most major insurance companies.

Inclusion of horses in psychotherapy sessions may include, but is not limited to, a number of mutually beneficial equine activities such as handling, grooming, washing, and groundwork. This approach provides the patient with opportunities to enhance self-awareness and re-pattern maladaptive behaviors, feelings, and attitudes.

This approach may be used for people with psycho-social issues and mental health needs that result in any significant variation in cognition, mood, judgment, insight, anxiety level, perception, social skills, communication, behavior, or learning. 

Examples may include but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Behavioral difficulties
  • Other conditions and disorders, such as Schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism, Receptive or Expressive Language Disorders, Personality Disorders, Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, etc…
  • Major life changes such as environmental trauma, abuse, divorce, grief and loss, etc…

During sessions, the patient and therapist are accompanied by an Equine Specialist (ES). The ES ensures the safety and well-being of the equine and partners with the patient and therapist help the patient meet their therapeutic goals. 

Does Shining Hope Farms offer  Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP)?

No. Shining Hope Farms offers mental health counseling that includes equine interactions. When horses are part of psychotherapy or mental health counseling, the mental health practitioner incorporates elements from interactions with horses and the environment into their existing clinical approach as a way to enhance the therapeutic process. EAP was a commonly used term previously, however it is not a standalone intervention and does not accurate describe the full scope of services provided.

Why use a horse?

The equine is an incredibly beneficial tool to utilize for counseling. The equine’s prey nature and intense sensitivity to subtle changes in their environment make them perfect partners for professionals who teach a wide range of life and coping skills.

What does it mean that the horse acts as a “biofeedback machine”?

The concept that horses might be helpful or healing to people struggling with mental health issues is based on the idea that horses (as domesticated prey animals) are extremely sensitive to changes in the human being (as a predatory creature). Due to their sensitivity, horses react and respond to people differently based upon the person’s emotional state. Since we know that emotional states in human beings also impact our physiology, it only makes sense that horses can smell or sense (using their vomeronasal organ) those changes. The horse acts as a large biofeedback machine, providing the patient and the therapist with information regarding the patient’s moods and changes within those moods. If a patient arrives anxious the horse will act and respond one way. If the patient is able to reduce his or her anxiety, the horse’s behaviors will also change. This provides a plethora of information and skill building opportunities for both the patient and the therapist.

Mental Health Emergencies

IMPORTANT: If you are in a mental health emergency please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room or call the Partners Behavioral Hotline at 1-888-235-4673.

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Licensed Therapists & Specialized Staff

PT, OT, and SLP sessions are led by a licensed PT, OT, or SLP with specialized training in the principles of hippotherapy. Each session also consists of a carefully trained team including a side-walker and horse-leader.


Our Horses

Each therapy horse used in the program has been evaluated and chosen for his movement quality, temperament, and training.

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Doctors' RX Required

Each patient must provide a doctor’s prescription for therapy. When paperwork is received, the therapist conducts a thorough initial evaluation of each patient and formulates functional goals.  Progress updates are conducted every six months to evaluate patient progress.

Insurance Accepted

We are in network with NC Medicaid, SC Medicaid, as well as most of the major insurance companies in order to provide PT, OT, and SLP at our facilities, which include on site therapy clinics. Consumers are responsible for their co pays and deductibles at the time of service.