Even before she became a registered psychologist, Lumsden’s Kali Eddy always felt something calming about living in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by animals.
Later on in her practice, she found her patients noticed it as well, like one particular bison rancher.
“He would just sit out in the middle of the field and chill and be at peace and be surrounded by animals when he was feeling really stressed,” Eddy said.
“There’s a reason that people love to be around animals. They bring a sense of peace.”
Eddy, who had an exhibit at this year’s Agribition, is certified in a technique called animal-assisted therapy.
She said it’s not a stand-alone therapy — more like a way to enhance methods like talk therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy.
“Sometimes the idea of coming to therapy is a little bit intimidating. So it helps take that stress away, provides some comfort for the client and brings a sense of calm,” Eddy said.
For children, she said it helps build a rapport.
“Building that trust with the client so they feel they can open up to you is key to developing any kind of change so the animals really help with that,” she said.
Mental health training for 4-H volunteers
Starting next spring, 4-H Canada will be training its nearly 8,000 volunteer leaders how to recognize youth who need mental health support and how to direct them to needed services.
It’s part of a two-year program made possible by a $150,000 contribution from Farm Credit Canada and three corporate partners: UFA, Corteva Agriscience and Cargill.
FCC president and CEO Michael Hoffort said they noticed a gap in mental health services for rural youth and decided 4-H would be the best organization to help them fill it.
“Being able to work with somebody like 4-H that touches that rural base of youth from coast to coast, we just thought it was a nice fit,” Hoffort said.