Find new levels of understanding, insight, healing and growth
Through animals we can experience the grace to be … and the space to become…
Our mission is to bring healing, insight and hope to families, individuals and professionals through the healing 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:
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.
Over the last twenty years Healing Hooves counsellors (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
- aggression and aggressive outbursts
Approaches Healing Hooves counsellors are trained in and able to offer you include:
- Equine Facilitated Wellness (EFW). Also know as Equine Therapy or Equine Assisted Psychotherapy
- Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
- Attachment Therapies
To make a referral or inquire about counselling simply contact us.
We start off the intake process with some information gathering by e-mail and/ or phone followed by an in person appointment. Individuals can self refer unless sessions are to be funded through Children’s Services or FSCD (see below) in which case a referral is required from a case worker.
We have an intake process when working with children/ teenagers which can be completed in part by e-mail and then with a phone or in person 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.
After that, the next step is to bring your child here for their own individual session. We work from a strong attachment perspective and like to involve the parent/s in the counselling process 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.
In many cases we recommend that the best way to help your child is to support you, and that a therapeutic horsemanship approach may be a better approach for your child – more info on both of these services below!
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.
Our session length is either one hour or 90 minutes – we usually recommend 90 mins when they are over 12. 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.
As of September 1 2021 our counselling rate is $200/ hour plus GST. 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 require 48 hours notice for all cancellations.
Intake Questions for Minor Clients
Funding has been available through FSCD (Family Support for Children with Disabilities), McMan Youth, some Family and Community Services Associations, and some private insurance plans.
If you are claiming reimbursement through your insurance plan or FSCD we provide you with a receipt with the required information for these purposes.
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 Lessons
We also offer beginner riding 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.
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 9 to adult. This provides a powerful group dynamic which enhances the learning and healing process. Group counseling sessions are offered from April to June or September to November and will typically meet weekly for two-three hour sessions for six to 10 week. 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 can focus on:
- Attachment and Developmental Needs
- Healing from Family Violence and Abuse
- Self Esteem
- Eating Disorders
- Boundaries and Empowerment
If you are interested in bringing a group to Healing Hooves 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.