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One Horse, One Human, a World of Change

We began as a loose network of friends and colleagues who were dedicated to helping families and deeply frustrated by traditional ways of doing so. What we’ve become is a community. We invite you to join us.

Lone Oak's vision is informed by robust literature and professional experience. Our design is shaped by input from diverse, talented, community leaders, including academics, therapists, veteran child welfare workers, horse experts, youth, parents with CWS involvement, handwork artists, musicians, and community volunteers. 

Our framework reflects expressive arts, ecotherapeutic, and natural lifemanship strategies; social systems perspective; the ground-breaking trauma work of Dr. Bruce Perry; and professional social work values and ethics. Expressive arts therapy (EAT) is an innovative approach to working with youth who experienced trauma. Utilizing creative modalities to regenerate the part of the brain that was affected by trauma (Degges-White & Colon), EAT enhances well-being, creating a foundation for post-traumatic growth essential to the development of social and emotional competence, empathy, and compassion. This  development empowers “our families” to build connections and respond well to challenges. EAT not only address trauma and its sequela but create an opening for the development of pro-social behaviors that empower families to create lives and relationships that are fulfilling.   

EAT includes animal-assisted strategies and other art forms as alternatives to traditional interventions. The keystone of our EAT framework is equine-assisted therapeutic services. Though still viewed by many as “alternative,” its evidentiary basis has grown in other fields (e.g., treatment of veterans’ PTSD). We use the equine-assisted intervention model of Natural Lifemanship (Shultz-Jobe, 2016), as well as other arts to address trauma, while strengthening families by inviting them to participate in family sessions, workshops on parenting, EAT projects, and collaborative work at our barn. Our goal is to create a healing community that mentors and supports the “whole family,” while offering concrete resources (e.g., school supplies), intervention for trauma, and education. 

We are “rooting” ourselves in fertile soil, finding ways to connect services, research,  and education/training to create a rich and vibrant community. Thus far, we have offered equine-assisted services and group programs on a relatively small scale. Qualitative data speak to their significant impact. We are now working on conducting additional research, collecting data and asking hard questions about what works best, for whom, and under which conditions. (If you are interested in the “academic side” of things, please visit our Research & Readings tab.)

We are creating a post-MSW certificate in veterinary social work. Social work undergraduates and graduates who are interested in innovative services, particularly to families involved in the child welfare program are invited to intern at Lone Oak. We are building relationships with partner agencies in the community and looking for more ways to deliver innovative services to families who need them.

We are located at Foxfield Farms (Ms. Susan Walmer & Ms. Kendra Walmer, owners) in Reinholds, PA. Our beautiful, 70-acre setting includes a barn, an outdoor ring, an indoor arena, and acres of beautiful pasture. Our horses and animals come to us either from rescue or donation. Horses that have experienced trauma and are being restored at the rescue become effective collaborators, sharing with many of our clients the journey of working through traumatic experiences. 

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