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A trip to Norway is full of therapeutic and economic inspiration


By the way, the idea of "Therapeutic Farm" is not new. Many such farms can be found in the USA, Great Britain, and Scandinavian countries. Our Farm team visited one such farm in Norway in November. We invite you to take inspiration from Gabriele's story.

"Hestegarden" foster farm is an organization that has been operating for more than a decade, which during its existence has already managed to accumulate many success stories in working with different people - both elderly people with incipient dementia and those who have or have had mental, emotional and behavioral and/or multiple disabilities. certain traumatic experiences with people (e.g. rape victims, etc.). Animal assisted therapy is applied at this farm. Most of the work here is assisted by horses and mini ponies, the farm also has a variety of birds, goats, dogs, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits, there were also sheep in the past, and the farm itself is surrounded by beautiful nature.

Our farm team brought new ideas on how the farm environment, animals and the relationship with them can be consciously used to overcome specific personal and social challenges. One of the inspirations, for example, is the story of a young man who visited a Norwegian farm because he had difficulties with suppressing his emotions, did not know how to express anger, was apathetic, and constantly lacked energy. The owner of the farm created a ritual with this young man to go to the fast-flowing river and scream while standing under the waterfall - because the falling water created a strong sound that drowned out the scream, it was easier for the young man to let himself scream, and walking (physical activity) and the environment itself (which contained many sounds and visual stimuli), had a stimulating effect and helped to overcome apathy and helped to gain energy.

When suffering from depression, it is often recommended to engage in physical activity/sports, as it can significantly improve your emotional well-being, and animals can be great helpers in this regard! For example, one person was recommended by specialists to run, but he could not find the motivation to do this activity. But when catching a runaway animal on a farm or running with a horse, a person didn't even notice that he was running! After finding that running really helped, this man found the motivation to start running on his own.

"We heard more similar stories about people who under other conditions did not find the strength to engage in the recommended physical activity, but when they were among animals, people did not even have to "work" for physical activity, because the connection with the animals and the desire to take care of them provided the missing motivation to move. So, we concluded that animals are the best motivators and sports coaches :))"

Animals can also help in learning the subtleties of communication. If a person is constantly experiencing failures when trying to connect, it may be too intense for them to directly analyze social situations and talk about how their actions contribute to the conflict. When the same behavior patterns are manifested in a relationship with an animal, it is much easier to notice and analyze your own behavior and how it affects others. It's easier to accept that a sheep is a sheep and has its own ways of reacting, so it gets scared by a rougher movement or a louder voice. Perhaps when interacting with an animal it is easier not to take the other's reaction personally. Gradually, we can understand that people also react to behavior based on their feelings and needs.

The owner of a farm she visited in Norway told a story about a boy who kept failing when he tried to make contact with other children, the children were afraid of him and avoided him, and the boy could not understand why. The unsatisfied need for connection eventually turned into intense anger and aggression, the boy felt that everyone was against him. Relationships became a very sensitive topic that this boy was unable to talk about at first, he was overcome with anger. Learning to understand the causes of conflict situations took place through the relationship with the flock of sheep. The boy really wanted to make friends with them, but at first he tried to make a connection by suddenly running into the enclosure, and the sheep seemed to run away. After each failed attempt, the worker of the therapeutic farm analyzed with the boy what the sheep felt, what they needed and why they ran away. Finally, it was concluded that the sheep did not understand the boy's intention to be friends and were frightened by his sudden and unexpected approach. Then this boy tried to calmly enter the pen, sat down with his hand outstretched with food and waited until the sheep became interested and approached the boy themselves. How much joy he had then! Finally, success - the sheep no longer avoided contact with the boy and allowed themselves to be petted. The farm worker then helped to connect this experience of trying to make friends with the sheep to the attempts to build relationships at school, and then many attempts to transfer the experiences he had to relationships at school began, and the boy could discuss these experiences every time he came to the farm. How good it was to hear that the boy had finally made friends!

These are just a few examples that have been heard, which gave the Lithuanian "Therapeutic Farm" team inspiration and an even stronger belief that nature and animals can be great helpers in solving various problems.

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