Dina has been in private practice in Franklin County since 1991. Dina has her undergraduate degree from University of Missouri-Columbia in Child and Family Development and her Masters of Social Work from University of Kansas in 1987. She has extensive training and experience with sexual abuse, trauma resolution therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Dina also has over 30 years experience in play therapy as well as providing therapy to adolescence through adulthood. Dina also enjoys helping children and families make a successful transition through divorce/custody, crisis situations, anxiety, parenting, peer and education issues. Dina also has extensive training in working with children that exhibit attachment issues and challenging behaviors. She has experience helping clients with depression, anxiety, bipolar, oppositional behaviors, post traumatic stress, ADD/ADHD, relationships issues, stress management, self-esteem building, and adjustment issues. Dina uses a client centered, solution focused approach to therapy.
Dina has been very active advocating for child abuse victims. She has worked at the Children's Advocacy Center as a forensic interviewer and mental health coordinator. Dina is also on the faculty for Finding Words/Child First Missouri for over twelve years. This is an intensive 40 hour training teaching professionals about child sexual abuse investigations, interviewing, and prosecution. Dina also consults with prosecuting attorneys as well as serving as an expert witness in child abuse cases. Dina was a founding member of Franklin County CASA and currently serves as an ambassador for the program. Dina also currently serves on the board for the Children's Advocacy Center of East Central Missouri and received the Child Advocate of the year award in 2010.
What is Equine Assisted Psychotherapy?
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is an experiential treatment approach that provides the client with equine experiences designed to enhance self-awareness and promote healing. Equine Experience program has been running since December 1998. Dina Vitoux is the program developer and the facilitator. Dina is very excited about the therapeutic benefits that she has observed with clients.
Most of the clients that have participated in the program have been children that have not had success in other treatment approaches. The majority of participants to date have been male clients ranging in age from six to seventeen. Although females are notoriously lovers of horses, males tend to be less verbal and are more difficult to engage in more traditional “talk” therapy. Using metaphors of horse behaviors has allowed access to topics of discussion that were previously off limits in the office setting.
Sessions consist of specific activities developed to address the client’s therapy goals. These are primarily unmounted activities although some do involve riding. The activities let the client practice specific behaviors and experience immediate feedback from the horse and the therapist. For some clients, just interacting with the horse relaxes them so they are capable of talking openly about their problems.
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy has been used successfully for individuals, groups, and family therapy. Activities range from team building and problem solving activities to activities creating parallel situation from the client’s own situations and issues.
Who Can Benefit From Equine Assisted Psychotherapy?
Clients that have participated in Equine Experience have had issues such as attention-deficit disorder, depression, conduct disorders, attachment issues, Asperger, low self-esteem, and post-traumatic stress.
Clients have worked on developing communication skills, problem solving, anger management, conflict resolution, social skills, empathy training, learning assertive behaviors, and developing body awareness.
Commonly Asked Questions about Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
How does Equine Assisted Psychotherapy help clients with psycho social healing and growth?
Specially designed interactive experiences can promote healing and growth through:
- Improving self-esteem and self-awareness
- Developing trust in a safe environment
- Providing social skills training
- Encouraging sensory stimulation and integration
- Combining body awareness exercises with motor planning and verbal communication
- Developing decision making and goal setting skills
- Developing sequencing and problem solving skills
- Encouraging responsibility
- Breaks down defense barriers
- Captivates and holds attention
What is the difference between Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and other types of therapeutic riding programs?
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is facilitated by a licensed mental health professional in a clearly designed therapeutic space and setting, with the intent to promote healing and growth. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy uses minimal riding but is primarily ground work focused on building relationships and psychosocial skills. Therapeutic riding program use the horse and a physical therapist to promote muscle strength and physical healing.
What is the difference between Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and horseback riding lessons?
EAP is a counseling session, led by a licensed mental health professional, using the horse as a co-facilitator to achieve therapeutic treatment goals. Clients do learn some training, relationship, and leadership skills to challenge their level of patience and personal understanding. Riding lessons emphasize riding technique. Although successful participation in any sport activity can facilitate positive self-esteem, a riding instructor or coach is typically not trained to do psychotherapy or address some of the challenges that the clients present.
How do I pay for services?
Because Equine Experience is a counseling session with a licensed clinical social worker, services may be reimbursed by your insurance. Services are billed as an individual counseling session. Program fees are available upon request.
I’m interested, what do I do next?
Call and set up an assessment appointment with Dina Vitoux. In this session your questions will be answered and current treatment goals will be discussed. Dina will use this information to determine if this type of therapeutic intervention is most appropriate for the client. Assessment information will also be used to develop a specific treatment plan prior to attending a session at the farm.
EAP may not be appropriate for a client if they are:
-suicidal or homicidal
- Actively delirious, dissociative, psychotic, or have dementia
- Medically unstable
- Actively abusing substances.
Precaution should be used if a client has:
- History of animal abuse
- History of fire setting
- History of seizure disorder
- Medication side effects
- Stress induced reactive airway disease (asthma)
To facilitate a trusting, nurturing environment, safety of the client and the horse are a primary consideration. Sessions are conducted at a private farm to assure confidentiality. The farm is located between Washington and Union.