BELLE MEAD, NJ - Carrier Clinic hosted a welcome party this week to introduce the staff to their newest "colleagues" - six therapy animals, two horses, two miniature donkeys and two goats.

Therapy horses Faith and Hope were the first to take up residence on the 100-acre campus in December; they were joined by Lily and Sally, the miniature donkeys, and the two goats, Hazel and Chyna at the end of the month.

Their arrival as permanent residents will enhance Carrier's Equine Assisted Therapy program for all patients at the behavioral healthcare facility.

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“Carrier Clinic believes in the power of alternative therapies such as Equine Assisted Therapy,” said Carrier Clinic President & CEO Donald Parker. “With these six animals now living at the ‘I AM FREED’ barn, what started as a program for the teens in our East Mountain Youth Lodge is now something that can be offered regularly to all of our patients. We are grateful to the generous donors who have made this possible.” 

For over 10 years, horses have visited Carrier Clinic’s campus to participate in Equine Assisted Therapy with East Mountain Youth Lodge residents. In 2016, a grant from The Freed Foundation enabled Carrier Clinic to build a barn. The new structure was named the “I AM FREED” barn in honor of Elizabeth Freed, president of The Freed Foundation, for her commitment to equine therapy at Carrier Clinic since the program’s inception. Additional contributions have now enabled animals to be a permanent part of Carrier Clinic’s campus, including the generous contribution of the horses and goats by Kathy Krupa of Horsetime, Inc.

East Mountain Youth Lodge Clinical Director Sarah Geser coordinated the Jan. 10 “welcome party” for staff to have the opportunity to come meet the animals.

“Carrier Clinic’s East Mountain Youth Lodge has utilized an experiential therapy model for almost two decades, incorporating a variety of activities into the therapeutic programming such as specific group games and challenges, low ropes course, art, music and drama that all involve experiences that can then be processed in a therapeutic manner,” Geser said.

“The equine therapy is a fantastic addition to this model. The animals provide these experiences, along with many other benefits. In addition to the structured equine therapy groups, just being around the animals can provide some comfort to the youth and adult patients," she added. "We plan to involve the youth in some horsemanship training and in the care process of the animals, both which will offer rich therapeutic opportunities. Having our own barn and animals on grounds is the result of much dedication over many years by Anthony Cartusciello, M.A., Dr. Claire Marsh, and Donna Zaleski during their time at Carrier Clinic." 

For additional information about Equine Assisted Therapy at Carrier Clinic, or any other services at Carrier Clinic,

Carrier Clinic, located on East Mountain Road, is an independent, nonprofit behavioral healthcare system that specializes in psychiatric and addiction treatment. Carrier Clinic’s system includes an inpatient psychiatric hospital, a detoxification and rehabilitation center, an adolescent residential facility, and a fully-accredited middle and high school for students classified as emotionally disturbed.