By Linda Titel
CHAPS closed their doors on Dec. 31, 2017 and Rawhide started their acquisition in 2018. They started serving clients in June and currently have seven or eight youth at the Shiocton location.
CHAPS is part of Rawhide’s outpatient clinics, which is Rawhide Youth and Family Counseling Services.
Aaron Geitner, director at Rawhide said, “The CHAPS piece is actually Equine – Assisted Therapy, working with different horses or ponies to get through not only behavioral but mental trauma based situations.”
The youth work directly with the horses, grooming them, taking them through obstacle courses, feeding them and learning different skills with the horses.
The majority of people they will provide services for at the Shiocton facility will be adolescent females and young women but they plan to serve adolescent boys as well. The CHAPS program in Shiocton is primarily geared more towards the female population experiencing suicidal thoughts, depression, mood disorders, or eating disorders.
Through Rawhides acquisition they had around 700 man hours to renovate the old CHAPS, exterior and interior. They wanted a new look, new feel to help as many clients as possible and the Shiocton facility will be able to accommodate more troubled clients.
Rawhide out of New London is for young boys, but the Shiocton facility will serve both boys and girls.
The Shiocton CHAPS facility consists of four therapy rooms which will serve clients in the age range from 3 to 65, but the core age group will be between 9 and 24.
Part of CHAPS operational plan is that they are open to naming the therapy rooms with a donor’s name, just like Rawhide, the Shiocton campus is accepting donations.
In January of 2019 they are going to start a IOP at CHAPS, which is an Intensive Outpatient Program. It’s meant for young adolescents to attend for a day, it’s very intense therapy, and then they leave and come back the next day. The facility is not set up as a residential care site where the clients would stay over night.
The Shiocton campus will have two full operational barns, where they will conduct different sessions for the individuals who attend.
There are five stalls in one barn and an arena in another.
“Each client will come in with some behavioral concerns like anxiety or depression that they are working on so we come up with different goals for them. We find a horse to match up with each client that they can bond with and we utilize that natural bond and work on that relationship which allows us to work on the needs of the client.
“It’s amazing how the horse will gravitate towards what the client needs to talk about, so it opens up the opportunity to therapeutically help them with whatever is going on.” said Equine Therapist Angie Konitzer.
The Shiocton CHAPS sessions are 45 to 50 minutes, and when the IOP starts, it will be three hours three days a week in a group setting including art, music and horse therapy.
CHAPS therapy consists of ground work with the horses which helps grow the relationship between horse and human.
The horses mirror what the client is feeling and thats very helpful to the therapist to understand what happening within the client that may not be expressed. They can see the effect that it’s having on the horse so they teach behavioral language so the client can understand what the horse is saying back to them.
“It’s a fun, unique thing to witness, a magical moment when a young person bonds with an horse and accomplishes a task to grow self esteem and confidence,” said Geitner.
There are currently 12 horses at Rawhide and the CHAPS location with miniature horses as well for the clients that may be wary of full grown horses.
CHAPS teach their clients how to communicate with the horses and that helps them communicate with people.
“The horses show the clients positive reenforcement, through hugs or leaning into them, affirming a bond,” said Equine Therapist, Gretchen Liethen.