Working ranch transforms into place of healing

Working ranch transforms into place of healing

It is a different kind of therapy, one that has Coweta County-based nonprofit Family Patterns Matter teamed with Carroll County’s Waypoint Ranch to serve at-risk children.

Family Patterns Matter focuses on generational patterns in families, works with families that are underserved and children who are at risk of failure in school and in life, said Family Patterns Matter President Linda Kirkpatrick.


Above, 9-year-old Jia Cutts, daughter of Family Patterns Matter board member Joy Cutts, with service horse, Molly, at Waypoint Ranch. Photo/Family Patterns Matter.


Waypoint Ranch’s Peace at Home Project works with veterans experiencing trauma, including multi-generational trauma, by using evidenced-based treatments involving holistic alternative therapies on a working ranch.

Kirkpatrick said the two organization’s coming together was a natural fit.

“While we cannot control our external circumstances or the actions of others, we can always manage how we respond internally and externally to adversity, given that we’ve sufficiently developed that ability,” said Kirkpatrick. “As infants and children, we begin to develop this ability through the relationship with our caregivers. As older youth and adults, we continually develop it through practice, which is greatly facilitated by supportive relationships with others. This is the cornerstone of resilience.”

Kirkpatrick said the relationship between the client and their horse is the foundation for healing and every interaction between the horse and human, whether on the ground or mounted, has a therapeutic purpose.

“The entire therapeutic process centers around how the client builds the relationship with their horse and the inner changes that must occur in the process of creating the desired connection,” she said. “Those changes must be genuine or they will not achieve the desired results. The client’s ability to create a rewarding, satisfying, safe and predictable relationship with their horse is brought about by their growing ability to self-regulate internally and to challenge their dysfunctional beliefs surrounding relationships.”

Kirkpatrick said this process is intended to create actual physiological changes in neurological functioning that affect the client’s behavior in all relationships.

“We allow the client to build a relationship based on their existing schema and patterns of behavior and, as they come to discover these don’t produce the kind of relationship they want, we guide them in thinking through and applying sound relationship principles that apply equally well in the round pen as in other arenas of their lives,” said Kirkpatrick. “Ultimately, this work results in the client being able to control his or herself and relating with others in a way that allows them to do the same. These are the fundamental principles of Natural Lifemanship Trauma-Focused Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy.”

Family Patterns Matter is a youth-generated organization working with young people in the Coweta County and Fayette County areas on a variety of topics facing teens, including bullying.

The mission of Family Patterns Matter is to build a foundation for healthy families through education, individual personal support and community connections.

For more information on Family Patterns Matter visit www.familypatternsmatter.org

Waypoint Ranch also provides services for military members suffering from trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder through Accelerated Resolution Therapy, Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning, Trauma-Focused Equine-assisted Psychotherapy and Relationship-based Horsemanship.

For more information on Waypoint Ranch visit www.waypointranch.org/.