Find new levels of understanding, insight, healing and growth
Through animals we can experience the grace to be … and the space to become…and compassion throught that journey!
Our mission is to bring healing, insight and hope to families, individuals and professionals through the compassionate power of the human animal bond; to share that grace to be, and to invite that space to become.
If you are hurting, feel like nobody cares or could possibly understand, and don’t know where to turn to or who to trust, please don’t give up hope. Animals offer us the genuine, non judgmental and unconditional love, understanding and acceptance that we all need and yearn for. We invite you to experience this through interactions, relationships and connections with our animals.
Follow the links below to explore the different services we offer and to determine which may be a fit for you.
If you are not ready or able to reach out directly yet we can still help. Our blog incudes many resources which you can access anytime, as many times as you want, free of charge. We have sections for parents, for professionals and simply about the power of the human animal bond.
Services at Healing Hooves Include:
- Individual Counselling and personal growth
- Professional Training
- Parent Consulting
- Therapeutic Children’s Stories
- Resources for Professionals and Parents
- EMDR Trauma therapy
- Personal Growth workshops and Group Counselling
- Therapeutic Horsemanship and Beginner Riding Lessons
- Corporate Team Building and Professional Development
To find out more about what our counselling sessions look like at Healing Hooves and how they may differ from more traditional approaches please refer to our FAQ page where we share what a session can look like and why we have included horses and other animals into our approach.
We work with children age five and up, adults, parents and families. With younger children we often follow an animal assisted play therapy approach. In some cases we will recommend that the child access one of our non counselling services grounded in therapeutic horsemanship and play, while we support the parent/ caregiver. We will also sometimes recommend a personal growth session rather than a counselling session.
Over the last twenty years Healing Hooves professionals (two and four legged!) have helped many hundreds of people of all ages heal from trauma, recover from loss, overcome areas of struggle and rebuild relationships, including individuals and families experiencing or recovering from:
- anxiety or depression
- relationship conflict and discord
- split parenting situations
- attachment struggles or disorders
- violence and abuse
- self harming or suicidal behaviours
- eating disorders
- low self esteem
- attention problems
- disregulated nervous system
Approaches Healing Hooves professionals are trained in and able to offer you include:
- Equine Facilitated Wellness (EFW)
- Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)
- Animal Assisted Play Therapy
- Equine Facilitated Personal Growth
- Therapeutic horsemanship, beginner riding and therapeutic vaulting
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
- Attachment Therapies
- Trauma Informed Yoga
All counselling sessions are delivered by a credentialed mental health therapist with advanced training in the approaches being followed. Non counselling sessions are all supervised by a credentialed mental health therapist. All sessions are delivered and/ or supervised by a registered and licensed coach with Equestrian Canada.
Individuals, parents and families can self refer to Healing Hooves. No prior experience with horses is required.
The first step to exploring whether one of our programs fits your needs is to complete our intake questions (below) and send us your responses by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have several different programs and professionals at Healing Hooves and this will allow us to assess which one may be the best fit for you. If our program is not the best fit we will try to provide you with a referral to one that is.
When working with children/ teenagers the next step would be a phone or in person intake session with the parent/s (not your child at this stage). If parents can come here in person it is definitely our recommendation as it gives you the added advantage of being able to have a look around our facility, meet our counsellors, and the animals, and decide whether it feels like a good fit.
We don’t usually recommend equine therapy for children under the age of five. For our younger clients we will often incorporate aspects of animal assisted play therapy. Please note that we do not work with mandated clients. That being said many people who are not willing to attend other programs are more willing to give it a try when animals are a part of the team.
After that if we feel that our program may be a good fit for your family, the next step would be to bring your child here for their own individual session. We work from a strong attachment perspective and like to involve and empower the parent/s as much as possible. This may mean supporting you in how you can support your child, parent consults to help you understand and address the concerns regarding your child, and/ or involvement in some of their sessions.
For Adult Clients our intake process is similar. We ask that you provide us with some general information to allow us to determine if our program is a good fit for you and then we invite you to book a first session, which is usually in person although we do also offer sessions by phone and zoom.
Our session length is either one hour or 90 minutes – we usually recommend 90 minute sessions when the client is over 12 years old. We are not usually able to work with children under the age of five. Sessions are usually outside and/ or in the indoor arena with the horses although when it is cold we can also work in the heated office with the cats. While with the horses, riding can be an option in time but this is low key and not a huge focus of the sessions – we focus more upon the relationship that develops between a client and horse and the opportunities that arise from this. We also draw on a lot of story telling with and about the horses. For our younger clients we will often draw on an animal assisted play therapy approach.
INTAKE QUESTIONS FOR MINOR CLIENTS (under age 18)
As of September 1, 2021 our rate for counselling services is $200/ hour plus GST and we do bill for the in person/ phone/ zoom intake session. We provide you with a receipt which you may be able to submit for reimbursement if you have a health insurance plan and/ or for tax purposes.
We do also have various non counselling programs at lower rates. Completing our intake questions helps us determine which program and professional is likely to be the best fit for your/ your child’s needs.
Funding has been available to our clients through SFP (Supports for Permanency), FSCD (Family Support for Children with Disabilities), McMan Youth, some Family and Community Support Services Associations, and some private insurance plans.
If you are claiming reimbursement through insurance, SFP or FSCD we provide you with a receipt with the required information for these purposes. We are not able to direct bill other than to McMan Youth.
We ask that all services be paid for in advance by EMT and we require 48 hours notice for all cancellations.
When working with children and youth we recommend that wherever possible we also support and work with a caregiving adult. Working from a strong foundation in attachment we believe that a secure attachment with a healthy adult is critically important in a child’s life and we do all we can to empower, secure, strengthen and heal that relationship.
A key aspect of the attachment-based approach followed at Healing Hooves is thus to share information with, seek information from, and provide support and guidance to the child’s parent/s. This enhances and supports our work with, and ability to help and support, the child in many ways including providing us with information and feedback regarding behaviours, struggles, challenges and successes outside of and in between counselling sessions, and allowing us to guide the parent/s in implementing strategies which support the work the child is doing within counselling. It also allows us to provide parents with insight, guidance and strategies to address areas of concern. In many cases the work done with the parent is as or more important as/than the work with the child.
The counselling and parent consulting approach we follow at Healing Hooves is firmly grounded in attachment theory, developmental psychology and neuroscience; an insight approach, rather than a behavioural approach. Specifically, it is grounded in the approach developed and taught by Dr. Gordon Neufeld. As such the focus of our work with children and youth is usually upon the relationship between them and the key adults in their life, upon their longer-term development, and upon the needs and emotions underlying their behavior.
Dr. Neufeld’s approach has also been built into the Professional Training offered at Healing Hooves and the Therapeutic Children’s Stories. Sue McIntosh has completed intensive training with Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D. and is a graduate of Neufeld’s Facilitator Program (www.gordonneufeld.com). As such Sue is certified to facilitate Dr. Neufeld’s parenting programs and works with parents from this paradigm. Dr. Neufeld is a highly respected clinical psychologist with over 40 years of experience with children and those responsible for them. A foremost authority on child development, he is an international speaker, a bestselling author (Hold On To Your Kids), and a leading interpreter of the developmental paradigm.
Increasingly at Healing Hooves we are not recommending that children receive counselling, but this does not mean that we cannot help. Often the best way to support a child is for us to work with and support the parent, and sometimes for the child to participate in therapeutic horsemanship sessions. Parent support sessions are always with a credentialed mental health professional. That same professional will guide and supervise the horsemanship session but the time with your child will not be a counselling session and is not delivered by a mental health professional. Therapeutic horsemanship sessions focus on providing your child with a safe, fun experience with a horses, with learning goals which are designed and supervised by our counselling professionals in consultation with you.
Beginner Riding or Vaulting Lessons
We also offer beginner riding and/ or equestrian vaulting lessons for anyone age 7 up to adult as well as horsemanship experience for people attending our professional training programs and looking for some additional ‘horse time’ within an EFW environment.
These sessions are tailored to meet the individual’s needs but can include relaxation and grounding exercises with horses, horse care, groundwork skills, understanding horse body language and communication, understanding stress signs and calming signals, grooming, leading exercises, boundary work, preparation for riding, starting to ride and building basic riding skills.
Our therapeutic vaulting sessions also incorporate movement, body awareness and music into the therapeutic environment.
These sessions are supervised by a registered and licensed Equestrian Canada (EC) Coach who is also a provincial trainer with the Alberta Equestrian Vaulting Association (AEVA)
Sue McIntosh and Carolyn Miller, professional staff at Healing Hooves, are both trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) a well researched approach which has been shown to be effective with people who have experienced trauma, including sexual abuse and assault.
EMDR sessions often happen with animals close by, supporting the process. For safety reasons we do not offer EMDR on horseback or in the same enclosure as a horse, but we do find that the animals will often turn up and offer support during a session.
Healing Hooves works with clients in groups for clients aged 7 to adult. This provides a powerful group dynamic which enhances the learning and healing process.
Personal growth sessions are often offered in a one or two day workshop format. Personal growth sessions can also be provided on an individual or family basis.
It is our hope during 2022 to offer ‘family days’ where parents and children can spend time at Healing Hooves in a therapeutic environment. We are currently exploring funding options to keep these sessions at minimal cost to our clients. If you’d like more information on these plans, please let us know!
Counselling groups are usually offered in partnership with a non profit or other organisation that coordinates the development, funding and recruitment of the group.
Group Counselling and Personal Growth Workshops can focus on:
- Boundaries and Empowerment
- Body awareness including through trauma informed yoga
- Regulation of your nervous system
- Attachment and Developmental Needs
- Healing from Trauma, Violence and Abuse
- Self Esteem
- Eating Disorders
If you are interested in bringing a group to Healing Hooves or attending a ‘family day’, personal growth session or workshop simply contact us.
Our personal growth workshops can also be facilitated with corporate groups. EFPD is a hands-on approach to professional development which supports goals and initiatives in a non-threatening environment. Rather than just talking about topics or concerns, participants explore them experientially with specially trained horses. Carefully tailored EFPD exercises provide individuals and teams with motivation, insight and new approaches. The horses give participants immediate feedback on communication styles and problem solving approaches, revealing strengths and weaknesses as leaders and team members. They can show you what you need to change to achieve goals, improve performance and to gain the cooperation and respect of others.
Workshops typically comprise a variety of EFPD exercises which might include teams working together and communicating on a task with a horse, working through conflicting goals, or exploring issues of trust between team members. Other exercises might encourage lateral thinking or explore leadership styles. Each exercise is debriefed with participants by qualified facilitators.
Working with the horses is a fun and memorable experience – exploring professional development issues in an EFPD workshop allows you to build on existing strengths, explore challenges and find effective solutions – all within a non-threatening and fun environment.
Prior to establishing Healing Hooves Sue McIntosh had over ten years of experience working for major Management Consulting firms – most recently as a senior manager with KPMG. Sue has extensive business, analytical, management and client service experience. Responsibilities included project management, group facilitation and interviews, in organizations facing and undergoing change. Projects focused upon change and risk management, human resources, corporate governance, fraud investigation and environmental management.
Sue has worked with clients in the UK, Switzerland, USA, and throughout Canada, leading project teams in excess of twenty professionals. With Healing Hooves Sue has provided EFPD services to a wide variety of corporations including Oil and Gas and Non Profit organizations.