Steve, an Iraq veteran, came to AATPC after he heard that he could come to therapy at a place with animals and for a fee he could afford. His AATPC counselor had a therapy dog in the first session and Steve felt calmer immediately and was able to talk about his anxiety and increasing use of alcohol. In the next few sessions his counselor helped Steve decrease his anxiety with mindfulness exercises with the therapist’s dog, and then later with one of the miniature horses. Steve had a dog at home and practiced the same skills with his dog daily, as well as when he noticed his anxiety increasing.

Steve was also able to curb his use of alcohol with the help of our quarter horse Cody. Through his work with Cody, Steve had to develop and non-verbally communicate a sense of purpose, resolve and intention. Cody provided just enough stress and frustration for Steve to learn to calm himself internally and take decisive action. These were all internal skills that Steve had lost after his time in combat. He was afraid of misusing his power and had to learn to trust himself again. The work with the animals helped Steve re-gain a sense of purpose and helped him determine a new direction for his career.