Woman and Horses

Loudoun TICN awards equine therapy to mental-health professionals 

May 30, 2023

Samantha Clarke addressing Resilience Award recipients at Project Horse
Samantha Clarke addressing Resilience Award recipients at Project Horse.

The Loudoun County Trauma-Informed Community Network (TICN) is proud to present the first Resilience Awards to outstanding professionals working to improve mental health for Loudoun County residents. As a part of Virginia’s state-wide observance of Resilience Week, eight recipients have been recognized this May with a unique Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) session in partnership with Project Horse of the Arc of Loudoun, Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) of Northern Virginia, and Greater Richmond SCAN.

Resilience Award recipients are community members that put others first. This first annual event centered around the theme “Helping Helpers,” recognizing social workers, clinicians, and mental health professionals working with vulnerable families and youth every day.

Over 100 Loudoun TICN members from 45 organizations were invited to nominate colleagues going above and beyond for the community. The eight Awardees are frontline professionals at LAWS Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services, the Northern Virginia chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Loudoun County Public Schools, Newport Healthcare, and Northern Virginia Family Services.

Rather than a physical award or traditional ceremony, recipients received a special wellbeing experience facilitated by the team at Project Horse that included a licensed mental health professional, certified equine specialists, and the horses, connecting horses and humans to facilitate growth, healing, and hope. “We see a lot of burnout and vicarious trauma in survivor care,” said Laurie Tasharski, Lead Facilitator of the Loudoun TICN. “It’s important to care for those who care for everyone else. This experience was designed to be a restorative and meaningful ‘thank you’ to those who help others.”

Woman connecting with a horse
Award recipients spent the day healing through equine therapy at Project Horse.

Recipients spent the morning bonding and connecting with horses and each other. Each individual worked directly with a horse and staff members on grounding and resilience-building activities. “I spend so much of my time caring for others,” one participant shared after the experience. “I never learned how to spend time with myself, until now. This has been very healing, and I’m grateful for this experience.”


About the Loudoun County Trauma-Informed Community Network

The Loudoun Trauma Informed Community Network (TICN) is one of 32 TICNs throughout Virginia working to prevent and mitigate the impact of trauma at local levels. Led by Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) of Northern Virginia, this diverse group of individuals from various sectors—public, private, nonprofit, state, and local government—seeks to foster a resilient community that promotes health, healing, and compassion through collaboration, education, and community engagement. New members are welcome to join at any time. To learn more, visit www.scanva.org/ticn

About Project Horse, a program of the Arc of Loudoun

In 2021, Project Horse merged with The Arc of Loudoun, a non-profit with a 55-year history of supporting individuals and their families living with disabilities. Project Horse has become the sixth program under The Arc of Loudoun umbrella, bringing mental health and wellness into the list of services provided in the community. At Project Horse, we connect individuals in need of hope and healing with our rehabilitated rescue horses, creating a unique community of mutual healing and benefit. To learn more, visit projecthorse.thearcofloudoun.org



Four people showing their dirty hands after their equine therapy session
At the end of the session, therapists asked each participant to look at and smell their hands. The grounding exercise pushes participants to use all their senses as they reflect on the work done that day.

Three women connecting with a horse

Woman connecting with a horse