Recreation Therapy

Recreation Therapy: Murphy-Harpst’s Therapeutic Recreation Program utilizes structured, goal oriented activities to enhance and improve our children’s lives. Our program provides many normal “firsts” most people experience growing up, including learning to swim, riding bikes, dressing for prom, enjoying dinner at a restaurant, painting a picture, or being a part of a team. We utilize a variety of therapeutic modalities including physical, social, spiritual, creative, and community based interventions to teach lifelong leisure pursuits. We work diligently to keep our children as active as possible so they may lead independent lives after discharge. Our motto is “Play with a Purpose.”

Learn more about some of the “firsts” our residents experience: Milestones at Murphy-Harpst

Equine Program: The equine program at Murphy-Harpst is 100% donor funded. Established in 1984, the program provides equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning to children in residential and foster care. Our horses create an intense and effective approach to every day therapy sessions with help from qualified mental health professionals and an equine specialist. The equine program provides opportunities for individual and group therapy sessions, a worksite for our vocational program, and an opportunity to learn a lifetime leisure activity. Murphy-Harpst’s equine program follows the EAGALA and Natural Lifemanship models, standards, and core values. Read about how equine therapy helped Tara.

Ways you can support the Equine Therapy Program at Murphy-Harpst:
– $120: Vet costs for a horse for a year
– $250: Farrier costs for a horse for a year
– $500: Feed costs for a horse for a year
– $1000: Emergency vet reserve costs for a year
– $2000: Sponsor a horse for a year!

Watch our 30-second video: Equine Therapy Explained

Animal-Assisted Therapy: Our Recreation Department grew by several species in 2019-2020 as we moved into new forms of animal assisted therapy. Animal-assisted therapy teaches children the joys of companionship as well as the responsibilities of ownership. In addition to experiential life lessons such as confidence and trust; animal-assisted therapy encourages curiosity and knowledge of life sciences.

“Therapists” on our team include Rebel the Dog, Noodle the Ball Python, Herbert, George, & Shelley the Hermit Crabs, Bert & Ernie the Ducks, Foghorn & Leghorn the Cochin Chickens, and Charmander the Crested Gecko! Learn more about our animal-assisted therapy program in our 2020 Impact Report Newsletter.

Spiritual Development: While participation is voluntary, children are welcome to attend weekly chapel services on campus. Chapel services are non-denominational and are used as a therapeutic tool; residents are assist in planning each week’s services. The youth write poems, perform songs, play musical instruments, contribute readings, and dialogue in these services. Our Children are invited to participate in worship services in the community, and may choose according to their religious background and preferences. Accompanied by staff, they look forward to fellowshipping with others of their religious faith.

Ropes Course: Murphy-Harpst has a ropes course on the Harpst-Campus where children learn skills while having fun in nature. Different exercised and challenges present opportunities to work on communication, trust, confidence, and self-esteem.

Art Therapy: Art Therapy at Murphy-Harpst gives our children an opportunity to express themselves through creativity. Kids learn the basics of art and work with a variety of media. By using art as a therapeutic tool, they are able to gain confidence in themselves and begin to treasure their uniqueness. Many of our children use art as a coping skill and have experienced profound healing in our Art Therapy program.

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