NDSU Bison Strides holds mental health and learning workshop and skills test

Kristin Harner
Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

DEVILS LAKE - North Dakota State University Bison Strides recently hosted a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning (ESMHL) Workshop and Skills Test Aug. 19-22 on the NDSU campus. The event was facilitated by two PATH Intl. faculty, one from Kansas and one from Pennsylvania, for 17 attendees from eight different states.

Half the attendees were affiliated with Bison Strides and included five students minoring in Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies at NDSU. They were Sarah Hendrickson from North Dakota, majoring in social work; Rylee Kraft from North Carolina, majoring in nursing; Bryn Larson from Minnesota, majoring in elementary education; Laura Ann from Connecticut, majoring in Animal and Equine Science; and Miriam Seitz from Wisconsin, majoring in Equine Science.

Attendees practice new skills with NDSU Bison Strides horses.

All attendees successfully completed the practical skills test component, thereby completing the first step towards earning their PATH Intl. ESMHL certification. By earning this certification, individuals are qualified to assume the role of equine specialist in ground-based social-emotional educational programming incorporating equine. Additionally, PATH Intl. equine specialists may also partner with a mental health professional to offer psychotherapy incorporating equine to address mental health treatment goals.

Benefits of partnering with horses for this type of work include improved self-awareness, increased mindfulness and greater self-confidence. For additional information, contact Erika Berg at erika.berg@ndsu.edu or call 701-231-9611.