Treena Hall Wants You to Raise Your Wings
An equine therapy nonprofit helping people recover from eating disorders.
Photo Credit: Michele M Riggs | Treena Hall, Founder of Raise Your Wings
In the 21st Century, it is hard not to get caught up in the ever-relentless hot topic that is body issues. In a world that focuses on celebrities, clothing sizes and the latest fad diet, is it really any wonder that so many of us are struggling with eating disorders on a daily basis? For those of us who suffer from an eating disorder, it sometimes feels like the only help that you get is from the all too clinical doctor's office and local clinic. So where in this extremely challenging time can one turn to seek help and beneficial therapy away from the clinical environment? Raise Your Wings is one such place.
Based in California, out lesbian Treena Hall created Raise Your Wings to offer women and men of all ages the opportunity to commune with an equine friend. Hall believes that forming an emotional bond with a horse can assist people suffering from an eating disorder with their treatment. Having suffered from anorexia herself, Hall knows first-hand what kinds of challenges, both mental and physical, that many must overcome in order to beat this debilitating disease.
“Anorexia is a life-threatening disease, and one that I struggled with for many years. It was a hell on earth kind of existence. Every thought and movement I made in my life was encompassed by anorexia. It had become my world, and one that almost took my life. What saved my life was my love and lifelong passion for horses. They never expected anything from me. My love and kindness was always enough. I felt that they understood me when no one else did. Feeling their strength, love and warmth became the foundation for my recovery," said Hall.
Raise Your Wings is staffed completely by volunteers; even the horses are volunteered to the program by their owners. It's through Hall's and her team of volunteers' passion and commitment that they are able to help countless children, teenagers, men and women to engage in a judgment free, emotional relationship with their new equine friends.
A typical session begins by being introduced to Hall and her volunteers, as well as going over basic care and safety around horses. Then individuals spend time grooming and bonding with a horse, followed by an activity with the horse catered to the clients' needs that allows them to strengthen their relationship with the horse.
What one receives from a session really depends on where they are at in their recovery, as well as how open they are to receiving. Trust is vital in what one would receive in a session. If a client is trusting, then it's easier for a horse to trust.
Hall says that horses are master teachers of unconditional love and acceptance. They're very sensitive, intuitive animals, and thus they mirror the motions we display with our body language. This can be a helpful tool for people with eating disorders, helping to increase their self-awareness.
To be eligible for the Raise Your Wings program clients must be under the care of a licensed clinician. Executive Clinical Director of Monte Nido, an eating disorder treatment center in CA, Carolyn Costin, M.A., M.ED, MFT recommends Raise Your Wings to people interested in exploring an equine experience.
“Treena and her Raise Your Wings organization offer the kind of sensitive understanding and expertise needed when using horses to help humans better understand themselves. I have seen horses in a few minutes show some of my patients things that humans had been talking to them about for months. Patients with eating disorders have what I call big radar and are sensitive to things they don't completely understand. Working with horses not only offers an interesting experience for people who can seem dreary about life, but it also opens doors into new realms of understanding as horses also have big radar and pick up on subtle cues that humans give out about themselves without really realizing it. I recommend Raise Your Wings to anyone wishing to explore an equine experience,” said Costin. (raiseyourwings.org)