Therapy in the middle of nowhere: how nature is helping people heal
The idyllic Pine Tree Farm provides the perfect setting for mindful hikes, outdoor therapy sessions, and adventure-based activities.
It’s also tailor-made for Wellness Outside the Box – Therapy Redefined, which brings health, healing, and wellness to individuals by combining the best psychotherapy tools and techniques with nature, movement, and mindfulness. Using the Dual Therapist Model they created, Drs. Kelly Yanek and Michele Kinderman see clients together and serve as a model for clear and respectful communication and genuine, nurturing connection.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better place to work,” says Kelly of the 20-acre farm in Princeton, New Jersey. “When you’re on the property, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. It’s very peaceful. It offers so many healing opportunities for our clients and for us.”
The sprawling farm is centrally located between Kelly’s and Michele’s homes. When their first location in Princeton fell through, a neighbor suggested they knock on the door of the historic Stokes/Mershon House and ask about renting the rustic red cottage on the property. So the therapists, who counsel clients to get out of their comfort zones, did just that.
“It’s just beautiful to see a child who has been treatment resistant come to our farm and be able to play outside, work on their skills, and explore their emotions,” Michele says. “We take the kids outside the four walls of a traditional therapeutic environment which enables us to make treatment a much more rich and exciting experience.”
And not unlike how the Dual Therapist Model was born, discovering new headquarters for their business was an unplanned but extraordinarily successful turn of events. In May 2023, they were seeing clients surrounded by acres of luscious grass, towering trees, a pond, a pasture with two cows they named Nature and Nurture, and a 34-year-old horse named Twerp.
The grounds provide enormous play space for the children they treat, and “the farm animals help even the most withdrawn clients open up,” Michele says.
“We’ve even noticed a lot of our adult clients like to play outside,” Michele adds. “It taps into their inner child. It gets them out of their head, lets them see their problems aren’t as big as when they’re confined to the four walls of an office.”