The Gress Mountain Ranch is a hub for counseling. People from all walks of life can find a haven with the animals. Benefits from counseling paired with animals include boosting self-confidence, calming nerves and increasing physical dexterity.

The Programs

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a therapeutic tool which partners with animals(small/large and some exotic) as a means to meet specific therapeutic goals. AAT has been the primary method of counseling used by Kathryn Gress, and her animal c0-therapists at The Gress Mountain Ranch. The benefits of this type of therapy are far reaching. The process begins with goal setting. Each client is able to develop a short term and long term goal prior to any interaction with the therapy animal. The therapist accompanies all clients when working with the animals. Afterwards, the treatment team therapist, the client, and significant others process how well the goals were met. Outcomes and summary are reviewed and recommendations presented.

Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA) are entertaining, educational, and motivating. They are led by specially trained professionals, volunteers, or para-professionals along with their animals. AAA can take the form of entertainment, speaking in school settings or social visits in health care settings,and meet and greet educational presentations

Equestrian Psychotherapy(Hippotherapy-with the help of the horse or equine) is used in adjunct to traditional treatment to enhance and move clients to change in the therapeutic process. Trust and genuine rapport is at the nucleus of our therapy. Clients can learn to give and receive affection, increase focus and concentration, gain problem-solving techniques, and work with assertiveness and self confidence tools. The practice of verbal and non-verbal communication is one of the key factors that is learned through working with the horse.

Along with the diverse population of animal therapists at the ranch, this psychiatric nurse/licensed professional counselort/ Animal-Assisted therapy Specialist, Kathryn Jean Gress, provides group therapy twice weekly, family and individual sessions weekly to embrace these clients.  A group of dedicated warm and furry animals team members, meet with this group on a biweekly basis. The skilled co-therapists are Rocky and Penny, Great Pyrenees dogs, Serena, Flemish Giant Rabbit, Hunter, short-haired red cat, and many other individual animals from 14 classifications. Avian therapist, help people, children and adults with “Bird Phobias”…at “Sunshine’s” duck Mansion.

The following is taken from the KidsPeace Magazine, where Kathryn Gress instituted and started at “Advances” Kidspeace School,  the First Animal-Assisted Therapy Program in Temple Pa.

Mr. Bill reports, “The animals help to breakdown communication barriers, and are a safe or free place from the judgment of others.”  “This type of therapy allows the children, the opportunity to open up and express their selves with the therapist.”  Miss Melissa, states, ” I have enjoyed watching the smiles on my student’s faces as they interact with the animals.”  “Many of the students in my classroom do not have pets at home, and this type of therapy gives them the opportunity to build a relationship with an animal, while learning  to be responsible.”  Mr. Tom Smoot, M.A., licensed psychologist, states “It’s amazing to see how engaged and attentive the children are when they are walking the dog, Kayla.”counseling

“The change in their mood and behavior is dramatic.”  “They are definitely calmer and more focused.”
Many of the students relate to the animals as role models.  These special therapy animals, share with the children, their abilities to “stay on task, follow directions, and relate to the children in a caring, friendly, and inviting ways.” ”Relating the life qualities of the animals to the lives of the children, brings experiences home to these clients”, reports, Kathryn Gress.  Brutus, life experience with his stomach cancer, Kayla’s timid or shyness, Thumper’s strong will for living even with blindness, and Muchka’s heartfelt nurturing even with  kidney failure, and Alzheimer’s disease is quite empowering to all.  as, their therapist, Kathryn Gress, brings things up close and personal and deals with “here and now happening” for continued strength and resilience for the students.

We hope to continue our growth and developments of this special treatment modality and watch it’s magic touch more kids in crisis to help them live healthier lives. In fact, individual sessions are requested to help “reach hard to connect students.”  Kayla, is taking on more of the responsibilities, as Brutus, is having some medical difficulties at this time.  The students always inquire about Brutus, daily, and this message helps keep the counseling_vol_barb_3dialogue open between therapist and students.  The students are first talking with the therapy animals, then the animals help bridge conversation to the therapist, the teacher, and each other.  Many  of the families are very happy to embrace the “human-animal bond.”  A written photo consent is required and then a picture is produced of the therapy animal and the student for all who request.  In this article, are some productive happy students with their co-therapists, Brutus and Kayla and their educational staff.

The motto, “Animals helping People and People helping Animals,” raised by this KidsPeace creative expressive therapist is very engaging to many people.  The ministry of Animals helping people, Kathryn Gress has been successful in partnering with therapy animals for school children.  Kathryn Gress has started a reading program, “Reading is Fundamental; where students read to the therapy animals to enhance their reading and learning abilities.  the special, “Lucky students of the sub acute room 13, Thank you in advance, for your continued support for Animal-Assisted Therapy with Kathryn Jean Gress.

Check out the gallery below for more AAT and AAA pictures: