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Staying at Home in Woodstock - MoonRise Therapeutics


Today we are delighted to share our interview with DJ Jesser of MoonRise Therapeutics!  

*If you're just finding our "Staying at Home in Woodstock" series, welcome! During the COVID-19 crisis, we are connecting with local businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-profits to help encourage and support one another through this difficult time.  Please contact us directly if you would like to be featured!*


DJ Jesser with Horses

Who are you and where do you live?

DJ Jesser and I live in Taftsville.

What do you do? 

I work as a clinical social worker to help people know their worth, see their own goodness and gifts, and find belonging and hope in life. 

Since 2002, I have partnered with horses to do this work as they are much better at it than I am. 

In 2019, a group of us began a non-profit called MoonRise Therapeutics, which I direct, in hopes that this work will be sustainable into the future.  At MoonRise Therapeutics we offer therapeutic and educational experiences that foster self-discovery, empowerment, and build emotional resiliency by bringing together highly skilled clinical and equine professionals, a herd of well-loved horses, and a nurturing environment.  

MoonRise helps to transform life experiences through partnership with our horses. The programs are small and flexible, operating during the spring, summer and fall seasons. We work hard to design individual and group programming that meets the specific needs of our clients. Once a client understands the role of the horse they are usually very content to engage and relax around horses. It becomes easy to find joy in their presence. Unlike other forms of therapy, equine facilitated therapy has no stigma attached to it. It is easy to open up quickly since the horses don’t judge or criticize. Horses invite us to show up exactly how we are in the present moment and to get curious around improving our own mental health.  

For how long have you been doing it? 

I began wilderness education/counseling/social justice work in 1979 and received my masters in social work in 1985.

How has your life and livelihood changed in the time of Covid-19?   

For MoonRise Therapeutics, this has enabled us to work on shoring up infrastructure and working on strategic planning. In terms of our programs and clinical work these are hard times with a lot of mental health needs. We have had to close our farm, cancel programs and put some fundraising activities on hold. We are continuing our clinical work virtually but truly miss the horse presence which offers grounding, calming and non judgmental connection for clients that is so needed during these unprecedented times.  We are trying our best to meet all the need but requests for services are great. 

For myself and probably many others, it is a bit challenging being online so much!  As time allows for, I try to get outside hiking and biking which I love.  Focusing on gratitude in relation to myself, others and our earth has been an important connection point for me during these times. Throughout the day I try to notice things to be grateful for and this has a way of transforming what is difficult, into something manageable and an opportunity for moving forward. 

Horses in Vermont

What is the most important thing that people can do to help support you and/or your business?

Spread the word of our work at MoonRise, follow us on instagram at @moonrt802 or like us on facebook, Moonrise Farm, volunteer once we re-open or help us raise funds to meet the demand for services. Fundraising is on-going and the smallest donation can help a person receive services. Moonrisetherapeutics.org/donation or email us to sign up as a volunteer, moonrisetherapeutics@gmail.com.

What changes do you hope to see in a post-quarantine world?

A more "horse wise world" where we recognize that our survival depends on the "health of our herd."  There are no "put downs," instead each of us can step up and play our part, enabling all of us to become more than the sum of our parts.

Thank you, DJ! Here's to a more horse-wise future.  

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