At STEPS With Horses, we stand apart from other equine assisted services organizations through our exclusive focus on mental health services and providing innovative and evidence-informed equine assisted counseling to individuals seeking emotional healing and growth. Led by industry expert, Dr. Hallie Sheade, our team has provided over 10,000 hours of equine assisted counseling and is committed to empowering clients to lead fulfilling lives.
Mental Health Services as Our Core Focus
STEPS With Horses is different from many other equine therapy organizations because mental health services are at the heart of everything we do. Our primary goal is to support individuals in their journey towards mental well-being, utilizing the powerful bond between humans and horses to facilitate the healing process.
Our licensed mental health professionals undergo specialized training to effectively integrate equine-assisted modalities with evidence-based therapeutic techniques. By leveraging this unique approach, we can address a wide range of mental health challenges, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, child behavior issues, as well as many others.
Innovative Step-Down Model
At STEPS, we believe in the power of continuity of care. Our innovative step-down approach, the Spectrum of Therapeutic Equine-Partnered Services (“STEPS”) Model, allows clients to transition from clinical services, such as equine assisted counseling, to nonclinical services like therapeutic horsemanship. This progression allows clients to continue their connection with horses and build on the skills they have developed during counseling, creating a seamless path for continued growth.
During the transition to therapeutic horsemanship, clients are supported by experienced equine professionals who foster an environment of trust and encouragement. In this phase, individuals can strengthen their relationship with the horses, while maintaining and building upon gains made in counseling.
Continuity of Care and Peer Connections
At STEPS, we recognize the importance of ongoing support in the healing journey. Clients who transition to our nonclinical services are encouraged to participate in regular check-ins with their counselor. These check-ins provide a sense of security and a space to discuss progress, challenges, and successes, allowing us to tailor the support provided according to individual needs.
Our team of trained equines professionals actively monitor clients during their participation in therapeutic horsemanship. By doing so, we can quickly detect any early warning signs and reconnect clients with their counselor if needed. This proactive approach minimizes the risk of relapse or regression, ensuring the best possible outcome for our clients.
Moreover, our therapeutic horsemanship classes offer a unique opportunity for clients to make meaningful peer-to-peer connections. Sharing their experiences with others in similar situations fosters a sense of community and understanding, further enhancing the therapeutic process.
Evidence-Informed Equine Assisted Counseling
At STEPS, we take pride in our equine assisted counseling approaches, Relational Equine-Partnered Counseling (REPC) and Equine-Partnered Play Therapy (EPPT). Both approaches are grounded in best practices from the fields of counseling, psychotherapy, animal-assisted therapy, and equine behavior and welfare.
Our team continuously evaluates and refines our counseling techniques based on research and client feedback. This commitment to evidence-informed practices ensures that clients receive the most effective and compassionate care possible, fostering lasting positive changes in their lives.
High Improvement Rates, Lasting Impact
At STEPS With Horses, our equine assisted mental health services deliver exceptional results. Over the past two years, 86% of military veterans and 77% of military youth in our grant-funded programs have shown significant improvement in at least one area of their emotional well-being.
Compared to other approaches, our improvement rates surpass children in office-based play therapy (71%) from Play Therapy International (2023). Notably, our dropout rate of 27% for military veterans is much lower than gold standard treatments offered by the VA, where dropout rates can reach 56% for prolonged exposure treatment and 47% for cognitive processing therapy (Richman, 2022).
Among veterans who completed at least six sessions, an impressive 77% demonstrated at least a 30% improvement in depression symptoms. In comparison, 49% of veterans receiving office-based treatment through the VA achieved similar progress (National Center for PTSD, 2022).
Our organization is led by Dr. Hallie Sheade, a renowned expert in the equine assisted services industry. Dr. Sheade developed our evidence-informed approaches, REPC and EPPT. With years of experience and countless success stories, Dr. Sheade has authored the book, Equine Assisted Counseling and Psychotherapy: Healing Through Horses.
As a sought-after speaker at conferences and professional events, Dr. Sheade actively contributes to the advancement of equine assisted counseling and mental health services. Her role as the Psychotherapy Technical Editor for PATH Intl.'s quarterly publication, Strides, further highlights her dedication to promoting best practices within the industry. Beyond her scholarly contributions, Dr. Sheade is involved in leadership and service roles for PATH Intl. and the Horses and Humans Research Foundation.
Training the Future Professionals
At STEPS With Horses, we believe in sharing our knowledge and expertise to shape the future of the equine assisted mental health services industry. Through our high-quality training program, we provide internships in partnership with several universities nationwide, offering hands-on experience to future mental health professionals and equine experts.
Additionally, we conduct professional training workshops attended by practitioners from all over the world. These workshops provide a platform for professionals to enhance their skills, exchange insights, and network with like-minded individuals. By investing in the training of future professionals, we aim to elevate the standard of care across the industry and expand the positive impact of equine assisted counseling globally.
At STEPS With Horses, our dedication to mental health services, innovative step-down model, evidence-informed counseling approaches, high improvement rates, visionary leadership, and commitment to training future professionals set us apart. With your support, we can continue transforming lives through the unique bond between humans and horses, offering hope, healing, and growth to those in need. Together, let's build a world where the healing power of horses enriches lives and fosters emotional well-being for generations to come.
Give the gift of healing through horses (and donkeys!) today! Donate at www.stepswithhorses.org/donate
Interested in becoming a client? Give us a call at (682) 219-8733 or fill out our info form!
STEPS With Horses