We’re fans of dog therapy programs, and we’re obsessed with goat yoga, so the partnership between South Carolina’s Split Creek Farms and Maryland’s Ashley Addiction treatment facility that unites the two ideas into one unique, new program is a welcome addition to the field of animal-assisted therapy.
As originally reported by Fox Carolina, the farm is donating five goats to the rehab facility, where the new goat therapy program will be located. One of the Split Creek Farm staffers is an alumni of the addiction treatment facility.
Similar to dog therapy, goat therapy at Ashley Addiction includes daily interaction and care of the animals. It’s something Sandra Coffman, an employee of Split Creek Farms and former Deputy Chief of Police on Capitol Hill, knows a lot about. When she’d hit rock bottom battling alcohol addiction, the rehab program plus caring for the goats at the farm are what she credits for “saving her soul.”
Coffman tells WYFF News 4 Live, “You can be yourself, you can cry, you can work through emotions … you can be happy, you can be sad … and they’re just going to be there.”
“Much like pups and parolees, these goats will bring unconditional love, companionship and purpose to some young people who may have nothing else to live for in their world,” Coffman told Fox Carolina News.
“If these boys,” including a goat named Bubba, highlighted in the video above, “can put a smile on somebody’s face and give them a little bit of hope, or a place to experience an emotion, a new feeling in a safe environment, I’ve done what I want to do.”
Martha Meehan-Cohen, Director of Advancement at Ashley Addiction Treatment’s Young Adult Extended Care Program, tells PEOPLE the facility’s goats were specifically chosen by Coffman.
“She has been to visit us many times and her animal selection process was very careful. The goats will be delivered to us – in person, by Sandra – in the next few weeks and she will be staying here with them to acclimate them to their new environment,” says Meehan-Cohen.
“We have built a nice shelter and exercise area for the goats and the young men in our program will be afforded the opportunity to learn to care for (and about) something outside themselves,” Meehan-Cohen tells PEOPLE. “That something outside themselves will provide unconditional love, the ability to bond and to re-learn trust. Additionally the goats and their care takers – these young men – will participate in goat yoga, exercise programming, and more. In essence the goats are being rescued by the clients and the clients, in turn, are being rescued by the goats.”