NOTE: While the newspaper indicated that the Path of the Horse offers therapy, we do not at this stage provide registered therapy services.
Trentham charity uses horses for mental health work
The Advocate By Rochelle Kirkham
Posted 10 December 2017
It’s been over one year since Trentham’s Dean Mighell started his not-for-profit Path of the Horse, and he says the experience has not only changed his life, but the lives of others.
Mr Mighell uses horses to help heal those struggling with mental health and well-being.
“You can have some really tough days,” Mr Mighell said.
“I deal with a lot of different clients; emergency service workers and soldiers to seven-year-old children with ADHD, autism and everyone in between.”
Mr Mighell’s journey in the area of mental health began in 2014, when he rode around Australia on a motorcycle to raise over $64,000 for Lifeline. Since then, he has studied at the Equine Psychotherapy Institute and has completed trauma training.
“The work some days is wonderful and some days it is really tough,” Mr Mighell said.
“You are hanging with clients who have been through a heck of a lot in their life and are still going through a lot in their life. Those days aren’t easy, but it is so rewarding when you are helping someone learn to manage PTSD or bring awareness to issues they have never really understood about themselves.”
People from around Victoria travel to Trentham to work with Mr Mighell at Path of the Horse.
Melbourne resident Jodie Bracken attends sessions with her eight-year-old autistic son Mitchell. Ms Bracken said it was beautiful to watch her son gain self-confidence.
“When he used to go to wash his hands at the mirror he always used to look down and not look at himself, but after a couple of sessions I have noticed he has started to look at himself in the mirror,” Ms Bracken said.
Mitchell struggles with self-regulation, anger and anxiety, but Ms Bracken said attending sessions with Mr Mighell has helped him share his feelings.
“To actually see your kid smiling and having a confidence boost is amazing,” Ms Bracken said.
Mr Mighell has recently worked with a mother and her 15-year-old daughter who were struggling with relationship issues and anxiety.
“I picked a couple of horses that I felt really suited exploring relationships… they’re extremely close – they are only two-and-a-half years old but they are inseparable,” Mr Mighell said.
“Horses model some amazing behaviour in terms of regulating their nervous systems. In the session, we then invite people to meet the horses, notice the interaction between them, and notice whether they are calm or not.
“Then we start to explore their feelings and welcome any feelings in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.
For most people that can be a very emotional thing and they say just being with the horse is a liberty and meeting them and patting them can be a really peaceful thing.”
Path of the Horses relies on sponsorship and funding to run. Visit http://www.pathofthehorse.com.au/ for more information.
CALM HORSES: Dean Mighell uses horses to help clients with mental health and well-being issues at his property in Trentham. Picture: Richard Ryan
Dean Mighell and Mitchell