The Salvation Army, Arise Ranch partner in equine therapy for human trafficking survivors

By: Brad Rowland

Since 2011, The Salvation Army has been fighting for those impacted by human trafficking in North and South Carolina through Project FIGHT’s comprehensive case management services. In addition to meeting immediate needs, The Salvation Army strives to help survivors along the path to restoration, in part due to connections with partner agencies. One such partnership is emerging in 2021 with Arise Ranch, a venue in Wake Forest, North Carolina which describes itself as offering equine-facilitated counseling and wellness opportunities to the community through a faith-based lens.

The Salvation Army began referring clients to Arise Ranch in May and, prior to that, case managers from Raleigh and Durham toured the facility and participated in equine therapy.

“It was very helpful to engage with the equine therapy to have the experience and help to understand what our clients will be going through and doing,” said Elizabeth Hunter, divisional anti-human trafficking director. “When we went, it was very healing for us. We were first and foremost there for our clients, but we were also able to really take in the experience and feel the positivity of it.”

Project FIGHT has referred individual clients to equine therapy in the past. However, the partnership with Arise Ranch allows full family units to take part in equine therapy together, helping family members to understand the trauma that survivors have experienced.

“Often it is difficult to grasp the trauma from the outside,” Hunter said. “Engaging in this therapy together can be very helpful in helping them heal together, not just the survivor but also their immediate family that is walking alongside them daily.”

Attendees will engage with horses with the overarching experience of providing care and establishing trust. Hunter describes the experience as “therapeutic” in nature, while pointing to the continuation of a comprehensive plan of healing.

“Our case managers who work with survivors will identify clients that need therapy or request it,” said Hunter. “From there, they will make the referral to Arise Ranch. We can also provide transportation if needed, with our staff attending as well. We will use this process not only to help them in their healing but to help them continue their journey towards restoration as we work on accomplishing the goals in their case plan.”

The faith-based nature of Arise Ranch is also of note with this partnership, as The Salvation Army seeks to provide refuge for survivors. This missional alignment is seen as integral in the all-encompassing journey for individuals and families.

“One thing we always talk about with our program is that we can’t do this work alone. This is a key part of the healing for our survivors, and we value this partnership with Arise Ranch as a faith-based group that has the same beliefs that we do. That’s important to us, and we feel like this is a great extension of the work already being done.”