BENTONVILLE, Ark (KNWA/KFTA) — Corral Coaching and Counseling is a unique way to seek mental health assistance. It provides traditional counseling as well as Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.

Kim Copps, the owner of Corral Coaching and Counseling, is a licensed clinical social worker. She worked at the VA Medical System, and after five years of working with PTSD patients, opened her private practice.

“During my time at the VA, I’m very thankful for the training that sent me all across the country. Yet, sitting in a small office, for some people with PTSD is a lot. We begin to see that there are a lot of different ways to deal with trauma,” said Copps.

She still has a contract with the VA and also helps veterans that are part of the Sheep Dog Impact Assistance non-profit.

Working with veterans to overcome PTSD and anxiety disorders is a large part of the work Copps does on a regular basis. Equine therapy works by building connections between clients and the horses.

According to Copps, horses can feel the emotions of humans. If an individual feels anxious or stressed, the horses can sense that emotion and respond. By working with horses, people are able to take control of their triggers and use what they learn in their personal lives.

“We start with mindfulness. That helps people learn how to calm their bodies. If I can calm my body here, I can call my body if I have road rage. If driving is a problem for you, around holidays like the Fourth of July- we can talk about and anticipate some of these trauma triggers,” said Copps.

Michael Nimmo is a veteran and volunteer at Sheep Dog Impact Assistance. He joined the military in 2003 and was deployed to Iraq. When he came back, he had a hard time readjusting after seeing an abundance of combat.

“I struggled quite a bit. Drugs, alcohol- it was my life. It was quite a mess, to the point where my family and friends didn’t want to have anything to do with me,” said Nimmo.

Nimmo turned to the VA and was able to get assistance. Something else that helped him significantly was equine therapy.

“There’s something to be said about walking around with an animal that’s 4000 pounds. It doesn’t talk back to me. When I’m feeling stress, it feels my stress. When I’m nervous, he feels nervous. When I’m calm, he’s calm,” said Nimmo.

From there, Nimmo got involved with Sheep Dog Impact Assistance and became an employee and eventually got a job at Tyson Foods in Springdale. He reflected on how far he’s come since he tried to find help.

“It’s allowed me to succeed in life. It’s allowed me to grow within my life. It’s allowed me to take life to the next level and truly meet my full potential, and for that, I’m forever grateful,” said Nimmo.

Part of equine therapy is finding peace of mind and a path forward after suffering trauma or other mental health disorders. Copps said, for some veterans, the relationship built with their horse, could be their first healthy relationship since experiencing a traumatic event.

As a veteran, Nimmo said finding purpose after returning from deployment can be critical. Even then, sometimes more help is still needed from professionals.

“The unfortunate part is that veterans tend to think that they can just suck it up. They wait until some chaotic moment happens in their life and everything explodes. Then it’s a meltdown,” said Nimmo.

Copps stressed that it’s never too late for anyone to seek therapy.

“Veterans who have trauma in their lives for many, many years ago can still seek treatment and make change. The brain is changeable. Mental health is an open and changing way for people to get help for themselves and for the people that care about them. The horses are an extra way to experience that,” said Copps.

Copps doesn’t just serve veterans. Her business caters to individuals and families as well. Her specialties include stress and anxiety management, addiction recovery, readjustment for veterans, PTSD and relationship management. More information on Corral Coaching and Counseling can be found here.