Bellwood’s Addiction & PTSD/OSI Treatment Program Clients to Benefit from Equine Experiential Learning offered by The Mane Intent

“It is amazing to see our clients transform in front of our eyes  with the herd at The Mane Intent. They are so involved in the process and are so touched by their interaction with their equine partners that they seem to get in touch with long lost emotions such as joy, care and hope. Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning is really profound to experience.” Michael Hartman, Clinical Services Manager, PTSD and Trauma Services, Bellwood Health Services

“The Mane Intent is a game changing experience. The horses and facilitators allowed me to move to a safe place.” Bellwood Health Services PTSD/Addictions Program Client and participant in Post Traumatic Growth Workshop at The Mane Intent


The barn at Renegade Ridge Farm painted by Bellwood Post-Traumatic Growth Program participant.

Bellwood Health Services of Toronto, Ontario has chosen The Mane Intent as a preferred provider of facilitated equine experiential learning for its Addiction & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/OSI Treatment Program clients. Bellwood is an international leader in addiction treatment with over 30 years of experience and is a preferred provider of the Canadian Forces and Veteran’s Affairs Canada for the concurrent treatment of Addiction and PTSD since 2005. The Bellwood Program is designed specifically for the treatment of PTSD and/or operational stress injury. Their program recognizes that the dual diagnosis of PTSD and substance abuse requires a specialized and concurrent treatment approach to maximize the potential for a successful recovery. Bellwood’s program addresses the trauma and addiction at the same time – an integrated approach recommend as a best practice by Health Canada. Program participants typically include members of the military, veterans, RCMP members, or first responders seeking to recover from these dual challenges and reclaim their life.

Bellwood’s clients as part of their 8 ½ week residential treatment program will visit The Mane Intent for a day of facilitated equine experiential learning (FEEL). FEEL is a leading edge modality for developing human potential and fostering personal health. By engaging in ground work with horses in a controlled setting, participants learn how their attitude, body language and intent impact our relationships and the world around us. By working in partnership with the horses as teachers and facilitators of change, participants learn to:

  • Become aware of subtleties of verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Improve attention, mindfulness and focusing abilities
  • Become aware of incongruence of intention versus behaviour
  • Identify and respect boundaries with ourselves and with others
  • Confront insecurities and develop confidence
  • Adjust to the relativity of time, expanding the moment
  • Cope with stress, grief and unexpected setbacks.

“We are looking forward to providing our clients with the opportunity to work with the wonderful herd of horses at The Mane Intent. FEEL is a powerful new way for our clients to get in touch with their emotions and build confidence in their ability to manage their PTSD. Jennifer Garland and Jody Raven, FEEL Facilitators at The Mane Intent, have been fabulous and are so inviting that we feel instantly at home at Renegade Ridge Farm. Hoping for a long term partnership and in addition FEEL offers another tool for PTSD/Trauma recovery. The farm offers a very calming, safe setting for them to explore what’s possible on their recovery journey, while connecting with horses and nature,” says Michael Hartmann, Clinical Manager, PTSD & Trauma Services, Bellwood Health Services.

We’re honoured to be able to offer this very unique experience to Bellwood’s clients. There is a growing body of experience that supports the benefits of horse-based experiential learning for veterans and first responders with PTSD. With facilitated equine experiential learning, the activities with the horses become a metaphor for what is happening in the participant’s life and provide a mirror to reflect back information about their personality, communication style and coping responses. In this space, participants can explore their fears, build trust in themselves and others and develop their skills in a supportive and non-threatening, safe place, while away from home and the workplace,” says Jennifer Garland, Owner/Program Director, The Mane Intent.

About Bellwood Health Services

Bellwood Health Services is a Centre of Excellence in the treatment of addictions. Since 1984, Bellwood has provided treatment for individuals and families across Canada experiencing problems with alcohol and drugs, or behaviours relating to sex, gambling and eating. Bellwood’s unique treatment model allows for concurrent treatment for clients with multiple addictions. The 58-bed facility is located in Toronto and is accredited by Accreditation Canada. To learn more about Bellwood Health Services, please visit:


The Mane Intent

December 4, 2015

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