Megan Moran, MAT MSCP, LMHC
Site Director, Cultivate Care Farms
I worked at a therapeutic high school at McLean Hospital, the leading psychiatric hospital in Massachusetts, for over 12 years. I worked with teenagers who struggled with mental health challenges and were no longer able to attend their public schools. Last May, I took these students on a community service trip to Cultivate Care Farms.
Immediately, I saw the farm bring out a whole new side of my students. It was really powerful for them to have the opportunity to take care of other beings. The activities on the farm were built around their strengths and skills, not around their diagnoses. The kids were empowered to take charge, and it turned out they were really good at offering comfort to the animals. They even showed me how to hold a chicken, which was something I never wanted to do. One of the students put a chicken in my hands, while I closed my eyes and squealed. One year later, I have chickens in my own backyard!
Now I'm the Site Director at Cultivate Care Farms; I witness firsthand the effectiveness of farm-based therapy for adults and children with anxiety, depression, social communication disorders, who are on the autism spectrum or have attention deficit disorder. People come to the farm hurting, and leave feeling better. Our clients are excited about life on the farm: they want to know what is going on with the animals and they want to get involved. Being on the farm has meaning for them.
At the beginning of April, our sheep Luna went into labor at 5 pm when clients and their parents were on the farm. They had never seen anything like this, so we had a crowd of people taking pictures, watching, waiting, and cheering us on. It was awesome witnessing Luna’s baby, Klaus, being born and observing his first moments. Everyone was overjoyed.
Animals help clients step outside themselves and away from distractions to consider the experience of other living beings. The accepting nature of these four-legged, woolly and winged creatures, experienced in the therapeutic setting of Cultivate Care Farms, allows clients to discover and appreciate their authentic selves.
~ Megan Moran