Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is an experiential form of mental health therapy that uses interactions with a horse (equine) to facilitate individual growth and relational healing. Board-certified therapists use experiences with a horse and personal reflection to achieve the participant’s therapy goals. Individual, family and group sessions are offered and can include riding or working with a horse on the ground.

Psychotherapy incorporating horses at One Heart Stables began in 1995 as a service to the children in the residential center on the Christian Children’s Home of Ohio campus. The program has expanded to serve children and adults in the general public. Our mission remains to improve the quality of life for our clients through compassionate equine-assisted therapy.

Our team looks forward to hearing from you and helping you achieve your goals. Most insurances are accepted.

Why Horses?

Horses are unique because they offer a pure, nonjudgmental relationship to the client. A horse’s instincts cause the animal to live in the present moment and react to immediate surroundings; therefore, a horse often reacts to the mood and behavior of the participant. Whereas a dog loves unconditionally and a cat loves quite conditionally, a horse’s behavior is always honest.

Psychotherapy incorporating horses offers clients struggling with depression, low self-esteem or anxiety the opportunity to engage in authentic connection. The concepts learned in developing a relationship with a horse can be easily translated to developing healthy relationships with others.


Who can benefit?

Children and adults with the following challenges can benefit from participation in EAP:

  • Depression, anxiety or trauma disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Relationship or communication problems
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Behavioral issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders

Meet our team

One Heart Stables is utilized by the youth in the Children’s Residential Center at CCHO as well as children and adults in the general public for equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP). Our therapists are certified instructors in equine-specialized therapy, and they are eager to help you achieve your goals. Learn more about our caring team below.

Carla Plegge, BA, LSW

Program Director & CCHO Therapist

Carla has worked at Christian Children’s Home of Ohio since 1990. She graduated from the University of Akron with a Social Work degree and is currently a Licensed Social Worker. Carla has worked in CCHO’s Residential Treatment Program, Encompass Outpatient, and is currently the director of Encompass Equine Therapy. Carla specializes in equine-assisted psychotherapy and using the horse to facilitate positive changes in people’s lives. Carla loves working at CCHO because she is able to combine her love for horses with children and adults in need. Carla has over 20 years of experience in the horse industry, including her own personal riding experience and experience as a riding instructor. Carla is married to her husband John and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren in her free time.

Email: pleggec@ccho.org

Melissa McMullen, LSW

Outpatient Equine Therapist

Melissa received her Bachelor of Social Work from Youngstown State University after completing her Associate’s in Human and Social Services from Stark State College. Melissa specializes in equine-assisted psychotherapy, which pairs her love for horses with her desire to assist individuals achieve their goals. Melissa loves seeing the relationship that individuals can experience while working with horses and utilizing their strengths. Melissa began riding horses at ten years old and enjoys jumping and trail riding. Melissa is married to her husband Ryan and enjoys traveling, camping, and experiencing nature.

Email: mcmullenm@ccho.org

Krista Overmire, MS, LPCC

Outpatient Equine Therapist

Krista studied psychology and youth ministry at Malone University and obtained her Master’s degree in Community Mental Health Counseling at The University of Akron. Krista specializes in equine-assisted psychotherapy, which combines her love of horses with her passion for serving others in Christ’s name. Krista grew up on the back of a horse and was a competitive rider in the sport of eventing when she was younger. Krista enjoys jumping, trail riding, and just spending time at the barn with her horse Oscar. Krista is married to her husband Luke and has one horse and two cats.

Email: overmirek@ccho.org

Christine Jones, MSW

Outpatient Equine Therapist

Christine received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Christian Counseling from Liberty University and obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Simmons University. Christine specializes in equine-assisted psychotherapy and is Natural Lifemanship trained. Christine loves combining her passion to help people heal with her lifelong love of horses. In her youth, Christine showed pleasure horses and spent as much time on the back of a horse as she possibly could. Christine is married to her husband Tony and has five children and three grandchildren. Christine enjoys trail riding, training her youngest horses, and walking half marathons with her friends.

Email: jonesc@ccho.org

Connect with Us

Want to learn more about equine therapy, or interested in making an appointment? Send us a confidential message using the form below. We will review your message and contact you using the information you provide.