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Today I’d like to talk to you about the children’s program at The Arbor. The children’s program gives children tools to deal with their feelings about addiction and it helps them identify their feelings about addiction. Many people think that children aren’t affected by addiction because sometimes it doesn’t show; it’s just on the inside. And they have real feelings about being affected by this disease. They have real feelings about seeing mom drunk or dad not coming home at night and mom and dad are fighting. They are affected. And even if it’s a sibling, they are affected. And we feel like that these children should get the opportunity that they deserve to develop tools and coping skills and to learn that it’s not their fault.

We are located on a ranch in Texas, and we utilize the horses that we have in the barn and we let the children work with the horses with our equine therapists, and they just think that is the funnest thing that they ever have done, and so it’s a really effective way to deal with their feelings kind of almost when they don’t know that we’re working with them psychologically.

Another exercise we use is art therapy, and the children draw pictures of a time that addiction affected their family and what that looks like on paper, and then we let them talk about the drawing and describe it to the other children in the circle.

Allowing the children to give voice to their feelings and their inner most thoughts that they have not been able to express to somebody is such a huge part of their healing. And we have an exercise where we have rocks that have feeling words written on ‘em, and they pick one of the rocks, and if they pick the anger rock, then they talk about when they were angry. And we had one little boy, he was very young, and he picked the angry rock and he said, “Sometimes I get so angry I feel like breaking a chair.” And this child was six-years-old. So, we think they don’t have feelings about the addiction? They do.

We encourage children to write, as well as verbally express their feelings. Obtaining the tool of journaling so they can write their feelings down and they can have a private place to put their thoughts and their feelings is a real tool in moving them toward healing, and it’s a tool that they can use for the rest of their lives. It’s very effective.

If you have a child that has been affected by addiction, whether you are the parent or the grandparent of that child, we welcome you at The Arbor and we would love to have that child enroll in our program and get some help for themselves.

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