Taking the Reins for Mental Health

Gateway HorseWorks offers an innovate approach to mental health treatment.

Tucked away on a quiet farm in the Malvern, horses are helping individuals heal. Gateway HorseWorks gives an alternative pathway to talk therapy for individuals facing trauma, anxiety, grief, addiction, and reincorporation into society. 

Recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental health, Gateway HorseWorks founder Kristen de Marco opted to find an alternative pathway to healing through equine therapy. According to de Marco, horses aid the healing process in their nonjudgemental feedback which provides the opportunity for people to reflect on their own life and actions in a different perspective. 

“When I started doing this work, so many of the people who were finding their way to me for innovative mental health services, couldn't afford access to them,” said de Marco.  “I never turned anyone away. One day, I received a call from a Probation Officer from Chester County.  He was looking to start a trauma-informed program for the women he was working with in reentry.  Unfortunately, he didn't have access to any funding or support.  That call felt like my call to action, so myself along with a Board of Directors, founded Gateway HorseWorks in 2015 with an impetus to make the incorporation of horses for the mental health treatment of people accessible to everyone in our community rather than an elite experience.”

Clients facing mental health struggles with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, PTSD, trauma, and grief and bereavement find that the horses become a metaphor for their own struggles. While talk therapy can help in many instances, horses open up individuals to new experiences and new ways to heal. 

“It is amazing to watch people discover new insights, awareness, and perspectives here at the farm.  People have the capacity to heal from unimaginable circumstances if given the space to do so,” explains de Marco.  “I feel honored to witness these moments and work alongside an incredible team of people and horses every day in service of our community.” 

There are many great ways for the community to get involved with the mission of Gateway HorseWorks. Weekly community volunteers are needed to help clean the barns while corporate volunteers come to the farm to work together in team building activities. The community can come out on November 26th for the fall volunteer day to help beautify the farm and lend a hand where needed. To sign up to volunteer, contact Jordyn at volunteer@gatewayhorseworks.org. 

The community is also encouraged to come attend the 2nd annual Winter Wonder-Farm day on Sunday, December 3rd. Local craft vendors, holiday music, pictures with ponies, and many other fun activities will usher in the holiday spirit while helping further the mission of Gateway HorseWorks! It’s a great way to see the farm too! 

How to Help: 

Visit www.gatewayhorseworks.org to learn about volunteer opportunities or to make a financial contribution. Your help allows this innovative mental health treatment to remain accessible to everyone in the community.

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