Experiential Therapy

Our experiential therapy  combines the best parts of sanctuary life — nature exploration, engagement with our animal residents and individual expression—with evidence-based therapeutic practices to meet each therapy participant’s unique needs.

What is experiential therapy?

Experiential therapy is an active and child-led therapeutic model. Our participants do a variety of activities during their sessions, including exploring the outdoors, creating artwork, writing and journaling, gardening, helping with sanctuary projects, and so much more. 

Our participants may also work in partnership with our rescued animal residents: brushing the goats, making salads for the pigs, creating enrichment toys for the emus, learning the body language of our bunny Brucey, and reading to the chickens, as a few examples. 

Heartland's Therapeutic Programs

At Heartland, therapy participants each work with a designated therapist– a licensed professional– during their therapy sessions.  All activities are done with the guidance of their therapist, and with the intent of helping participants reach their therapeutic goals.  

These goals may include increasing coping skills, learning to better regulate and express emotions, practicing self-advocacy, building social skills, and setting boundaries. 

Experiential Therapy at Heartland is a good fit for children and young people who enjoy being outdoors and around animals, as well as those who may struggle to express themselves verbally.  Our sanctuary’s unique environment and therapeutic experience often allow participants to open up and heal in ways that they’ve struggled with elsewhere.

Our intention is for therapy participants to go on to become involved with our humane education camps and classes, and/or volunteer at our sanctuary to become active members of Heartland’s community.

Heartland’s Experiential Therapy Program currently serves ages 5-21. Interested in joining our waitlist? Please email us at [email protected].
Billing and payment

We offer three options for paying for therapy sessions at Heartland:

  1. Private pay (out-of-pocket)
  2. Heartland Farm Sanctuary is a Children’s Long-Term Support (CLTS) approved provider. You can learn more about CLTS here.
  3. If you’re located in Rock County, learn more about possible funding through Comprehensive Community Services (CCS).
Group Therapy Sessions

Heartland is currently offering group therapy services to participants who are currently enrolled in our individual therapy program. The cost of a group session can be covered by CLTS funding or paying our out-of-pocket rate, which is $65. We’re hopeful we’ll be able to offer services to more people in the community in the future. 

Want to learn more? Check out our Therapy FAQs below...

Our therapy sessions have the ability to be flexible in their nature. We offer both private indoor spaces and a variety of outdoor spaces that are shared with animal residents and other Heartland staff. 

You can view all of our residents’ pictures and bios here.

We work up to animal interactions in therapy sessions, so it may take several sessions before the therapy participant gets one-on-one interaction with Heartland’s animal residents. 

Therapy participants will have the opportunity to engage with most of our animal residents and our therapy dog during their sessions, as long as the environment is safe for both the animal and the therapy participant. Our interactions with the animals in therapy sessions are consent based, and animals may opt out of interactions. We never guarantee any specific animal will want to participate in a therapy session.  We always respect the boundaries of our animal residents, just as we do for people. We practice our partnership with animals in this way because of how it benefits both the therapy participant and the animal. By entering into a mutual and reciprocal relationship with the animal residents, we are able to work on important skills such as cognitive flexibility, social-emotional awareness, empathy, and problem solving. 

At Heartland, we have a multi-dimensional team of therapists with a variety of backgrounds! We have Recreational Therapists (CTRS), Social Workers (CSW, APSW, or LCSW), and an Art Therapist (MS-ATR). They each may use the skills and knowledge from their unique backgrounds as a resource during sessions, but they all use our program’s individualized and child-led experiential therapy model while working with participants. All of our therapists are trained in working with our animal residents, and all can incorporate animal interactions and care into sessions as their participants express interest.

You can read the bios of all of our program’s therapists on our Staff page, under the Program Staff section.

Our therapy is guided by licensed and/or certified  professionals and promotes our participants’ mental health, but we do not provide diagnosis or clinical treatment for mental health conditions. Our program is a great option to enhance and complement the benefits of traditional psychotherapy.  We recommend pursuing additional therapeutic support if seeking a diagnosis or clinical treatment.

Our program is not equipped for managing active mental health crises. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, we recommend contacting the following services:

  • Journey’s 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Line: call 608-280-2600 for immediate crisis support
  • Dane County’s Behavioral Health Resource Center: visit danebhrc.org, call 608-267-2244, or email [email protected] to learn about mental health resources available in Dane County 

Please know that these needs do not exclude anyone from participating in our therapy program, and you’re welcome to continue the intake process with us!

Our current team of therapists identify as white, female, and either as members of the LGBTQ+ community or as LGBTQ-allied. Our program is committed to lifelong learning and work when it comes to providing inclusive, anti-racist, and welcoming spaces and relationships.

We currently accept the following options for paying for therapy sessions: private pay (all costs billed directly to the participant’s guardian), funding through the Children’s Long-Term Support (CLTS) Waiver Program, and funding through Rock County Community Comprehensive Services. 

Our out-of-pocket rate for therapy is $180 per 60-minute session. We’re a contracted provider for children receiving support through the CLTS Waiver Program of Dane County, and are working to establish contracts with neighboring counties, as well.  Our therapy sessions are billed under “Counseling and Therapeutic Services” for our CLTS participants.

For more information about billing, please contact our Program Intake Coordinator directly at [email protected]

At this time, our therapy program does not work with health insurance.

At Heartland, we value building lasting relationships and creating meaningful connections. Insurance companies often dictate the type and frequency of care that can be provided, and typically require a diagnosis that stays on a person’s medical file for life. They also often do not recognize many of the important things we work on in experiential therapy, such as personal development, life skills, and self improvement, as reimbursable necessities. We believe all beings who walk through the gates of our sanctuary are complex, resilient, and worthy of creative, ongoing support as they maneuver life’s challenges; they’re so much more than a diagnosable “illness”. By working outside of insurance-based care, we’re better able to take time to build genuine relationships, cultivate community, and provide a safe space for people to experience growth, healing, and connection. 

Currently, Heartland charges $180/individual experiential therapy session. We do contract with Dane County’s Children’s Long Term Support Waiver program, as well as Rock County Comprehensive Community Services. In an effort to provide accessibility and affordable rates,  we reserve a portion of appointments for those who need sliding scale rates. 

Yes! Please check out our website for information about year-round camps and classes offered through our Humane Education Program, as well as volunteer opportunities for kids ages 16 and older!  

You can learn more about our Humane Education Program at https://heartlandfarmsanctuary.org/humaneed/ 

Fill out our volunteer application at https://heartlandfarmsanctuary.org/volunteer/ 

Please contact our Program Intake Coordinator at [email protected] if you have more questions about our Experiential Therapy Program and its intake process. You can also check out our Starting Therapy Flow Chart.

Please contact our Program Intake Coordinator at [email protected] if you have more questions about our Experiential Therapy Program and its intake process. You can also check out our Starting Therapy Flow Chart.

What we're hearing...

For the first time in her life, Charlotte belonged somewhere and was shown deep compassion and empathy despite some of the ways she needed special accommodations. And, because she had the opportunity to work with peers in an environment she felt included and safe in, she developed incredible skills in communication and leadership. Charlotte is not only more aware of her own needs, but is also better able to advocate for herself and others thanks to her experience at Heartland.

Mom of HFS therapy participant and summer camper

Cancellation Policy:

We ask that participants give their therapists at least 24 hours advance notice if they need to cancel a therapy session.  Participants who cancel a session with less than 24 hours notice given to their therapist will be charged a $25.00 cancellation fee (except in cases of illness, inclement weather, and emergencies). We always prefer sessions be rescheduled, rather than canceled, as schedules allow. Participants will never be charged a cancellation or no-show fee for a session which they successfully reschedule.  Please contact your therapist directly to cancel or reschedule. In the event of an emergency, please call Heartland at 608-440-1118 and one of our staff will follow up with you.

Heartland's Covid Policy:

Heartland’s COVID-19 policies have been updated in alignment with Public Health Madison & Dane County. You can find our most updated Covid policies here.

Heartland's address is 424 US 51, Stoughton, WI 53589

Our Rescued Residents

Heartland has been recognized as one of the nation’s premier farm animal sanctuaries. We provide high-quality, specialized care, hope and healing for animals who have suffered abuse, neglect, and have nowhere else to go. Many of our rescued residents experience safety and compassion for the very first time after walking through our sanctuary doors.

The vast majority of rescued animals who find hope at Heartland will remain at the sanctuary for their entire lives. When possible, we place animals in safe and loving homes. And we serve as a resource for shelters and county agencies around the state who request our assistance with farm animal abandonment and cruelty cases.

  • Cookie

  • Cupcake

  • Archer

  • Arnold

  • Blue

  • Blossom

  • Chachi

  • Fonsi

  • Donna

  • Crystal

  • Toast

  • Esme

  • Fern

  • Flower

  • Gracie

  • Harriet

  • Joan

  • Sable

  • Justice

  • Libby (Liberty)

  • Maybelle

  • Mick

  • Thor

  • Orion

  • Mister

  • Percy

  • Pico

  • Ash

  • Tank

  • Teddy

  • Theo

  • Rascal

  • Popcorn

  • Venus

  • Vincenzo

  • Xena

  • Zeus

  • Stella

  • Ms. Everdeen

  • Goldie

  • Missy

  • Wolfie

  • Petri

  • Alice

  • Sassafras

  • Jerry

  • Frankie

  • Murphy

  • Truffle

  • Honey

  • Betty White

  • Laverne

  • Shirley

  • Cream Puff

  • Hank

  • Dandelion

  • Maple

  • Penny

  • Ruth

  • Betula

  • Aspen

  • Brucey

  • Leif

  • Gunnar

  • Bebe

  • Rose

  • Magnolia

  • Juniper

  • Bluey

Change Lives With Your Gift

Making a tax-deductible donation is the best way to show your support and help Heartland Farm Sanctuary continue the important work we do for farm animals and people in Dane County.