Wings of Hope Hospice recognizes the unique needs of younger and older teens requiring grief support and counseling. The Pegasus program helps young people learn healthy ways to express emotions related to grief and, therefore, reduces their risk of withdrawal, self-medication through drugs or antisocial behavior.
Support for High School Teens: Pegasus
The Pegasus Workshop uses Equine Assisted Learning (EAGALA) to help grieving teens process thoughts and feelings as they interact with horses.
Horses are very well suited to healing therapies, because they are sensitive and readily attune themselves to groups. Horses mirror human emotions, which provides opportunities for young adults to better understand themselves. This relationship-based learning is proven to be very powerful and effective.
During one Pegasus workshop, a teenager was struggling to tell his grief story. An old mare he’d spent time with walked up to him and lightly rested her head on his shoulder. Her gentle presence gave him the strength and comfort he needed to share for the first time the story of how his mother died.
In another group, a boy was struggling to talk about his feelings when the mare he’d spent time with walked into the circle and placed her hoof on an object which was labeled to represent anger. They boy was silent for a moment while he took in this wordless intervention from his horse-therapist. As if a light had switched on, the young man realized at once how he had suppressed his anger and shame. He was finally able to give voice to the feelings and receive support and comfort from his peers.
All horse activities are unmounted. Sessions are led by two group facilitators, a licensed mental health professional and an EAGALA approved Equine Specialist.
This action-oriented approach appeals to many adolescents, who may have difficulty expressing their grief verbally. Working with these powerful animals enables teens to overcome fears and build confidence as they bond with the horses.