Our Model & Our Team

Willow Equine abides by the these Standards:

1.) All Sessions are Ground Based (No riding or horsemanship needed or taught)

2.) Team Approach (Horses, a Licensed Mental Health Professional & a Certified Equine Specialist are in every session)

3.) Client Centered & Solution-Oriented

4.) Adhere to a Code of Ethics

5.) Our Core Values are Commitment, Courage, Faith, Integrity and Trust

– HONESTY
– OPENNESS
– NATURE
– OWNERSHIP
– RESPECT

Who is this for?

Willow Equine works with clients of all ages with an array of challenges. The team of therapists have diverse areas of expertise including trauma, depression, anxiety, grief, and self-harm. Brain Spotting, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMRD), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), and Reiki can also be incorporated into your equine assisted sessions.

We tailor our sessions to fit your needs and goals. The beauty of this interaction is that horses take what is held inside of us and translate it into tangible experiences.

When with the horses, all the work is done on the ground. Horses are deliberately allowed to move freely, never ridden, and can interact with the clients as they choose. This creates a space for the client, with the support of the professional facilitators, to reflect, project, and make deeper connections. While riding and horsemanship is beneficial, it can obscure the primary mechanism which makes Equine Assisted Psychotherapy so effective – the horse’s natural, unfiltered, and unbiased response to the client’s psychological material (behavior, thoughts, feelings, attitudes). There is a freedom to move, connect and be present. The tranquility of the farm and hands-on approach offers the client a chance to take a deep restorative breath of fresh air and discover inner resilience.

Our nonprofit, Soul to Soles Connection is dedicated to reducing the impact of trauma in America’s active-duty military, Veterans, and their families. Soul to Soles Connection provides FREE ground-based mental health services, with horses, at our farm. This program is strengthened through generous donors, sponsors, and grants. America’s service members, Veterans and their families have made innumerable sacrifices for our Freedoms. We never turn away someone who has the courage to ask for help.

What are some of the benefits?

  • Assertiveness
  • Attitude
  • Awareness
  • Boundaries
  • Creative Thinking
  • Confidence
  • Leadership
  • Non Verbal / Verbal Communication
  • Problem Solving
  • Teamwork

We are experienced working with:

What to Expect:

This work is client driven, meaning clients take the lead! There is always a licensed mental health professional, a certified equine specialist, and the horses (sometimes llamas too) in each session. The role of the professional facilitators is to ensure physical and emotional safety. Our team will set up experiences, support clients, and facilitate the learning process. During the sessions, the professional facilitation team may step away from the clients and move around to observe the horses’ interactions, behaviors, shifts, and patterns. The observations may be discussed with the client during debrief resulting in personal reflection and insight. Most importantly, there is no “specific way” sessions are to look! There is no right or wrong at the farm!

We are in pastures with free moving animals so closed toe shoes are required. Dress according to the season and weather forecast.

Click below for a copy of the Welcome Letter, 2021 Liability Release Form and the 2021 Medical Form.

Meet the Team

Katie Stankiewicz, CPC

Phone: 704.237.0644

Katie has always had a passion for horses and a deep desire to see people succeed. She understands the desire for authentic relationships in life, which horses naturally offer. Katie founded Willow Equine, in 2012, to serve those seeking personal growth, improved team dynamics, or optimized leadership capabilities. In 2017, she founded Soul to Soles Connection, a program focused exclusively on the mental health of America’s military, Veterans and their families.

Katie is an Advanced Eagala certified Equine Specialist, a founding member of Arenas for Change (ARCH) and a Reiki Master. She has her Eagala Military Designation, with specialized training and experience working with the military community. Katie is the executive director of Soul to Soles Connection, our military non-profit. As a certified leadership coach, Sacred Money Archetype coach, as well as a certified 48 HR Breakthrough coach & trainer, her work allows clients to look beyond “their box” and onto their higher self. Katie’s unique skill sets, combined with the power of the horses, drive clients across the finish line in life and business!

Maria Russell, LCMHCS, Clinical Director
BIO

Maria has always had a passion for helping individuals, couples, and families cope with difficulties in their lives. Her desire is to help clients experience healing and life change.  Maria is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Supervisor and the Clinical Director for Willow Equine and Soul to Soles Connection. She has provided clinical services since 2006, and has worked with children, adults, and families in a variety of settings. Maria is an Advanced Eagala certified mental health professional with her Eagala Military Designation as well as her Arenas for Change (ARCH) Designation. 

Maria treats families, couples, and individuals using a trauma focused, root causes, cognitive-behavioral, systemic model, and assist clients with a variety of emotional, behavioral, personal, and relational problems. Maria is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Restoration Therapy, and utilizes the Enneagram in treatment.  Maria is a part of Kannapolis Counseling Group, and her office is in Kannapolis, NC. She accepts private pay and BCBS-NC.

CONNECT

828.387.5735

Send her an email: mariarussell.lpc@gmail.com

Jen Roach, LCMHC
BIO

Jen is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor.and an Eagala Certified Mental Health professional. She specializes in working with women to heal wounds from trauma, and teaches tools to empower self and build relationships. She is experienced in partnering with individuals to restore strained relationships and overcome difficulties resulting from Separation/Divorce, Emotional, Verbal, Physical, Spiritual, Sexual Abuse. Jen’s expertise is in using experiential activities in order to go deeper than “talk therapy”. She is passionate about teaching you how to establish healthy boundaries in relationships, how to value and love yourself, and how to connect with your spirituality.

In addition to her private practice, Jen is a contract therapist at Onsite Workshops near Nashville, TN where she leads Experiential Intensives for individuals and couples. Jen is  Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and brain spotting trained. It is her desire to provide a safe, judgment FREE place for you. Jen owns Freedom Counseling, with an office near Birkdale, and accepts private pay.

CONNECT

704.796.1918

Send her an email: jennifer@counselingnorthcharlotte.com

Julia Rose, LCMHC
BIO

Animal assisted therapy has been a passion of Julia’s since getting her Masters from the University of North Carolina. Julia has been working professionally with horses since 2014 and enjoys working with animals to help people understand and cope with their trauma or situations. She has seen what it has done not only for others, but herself. Sharing this type of healing experience with clients, is not only exciting but an honor.

Julia works with adolescents, young adults and adult clients with a range of mental health and other life problems. She has a background in working with severe and persistent mental illnesses, domestic violence and relationships. Julia is a true believer of the Eagala model, is an Eagala certified mental health professional and a founding member of Arenas for Change (ARCH). She incorporates her Gestalt and other therapeutic ideologies into her sessions. She is co-owner of Davidson Family Therapy and her office is in downtown Cornelius, NC. She accepts private pay, Aetna, BCBS-NC, Cigna, United and certified with Tricare.

CONNECT

704.912.4095

Read her Blog!

Send her an email: jrose@davidsonfamilytherapy.com

Melissa Griswold
BIO

Melissa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Social Work at Appalachian State University. She has 20 years of experience working with horses in several different capacities and is honored to help others on their healing journey with Equine Assisted Therapy.

Melissa works with individuals ages 18 and up who are facing challenges such as anxiety, depression, grief, and trauma. She is additionally certified as an Integrative Mental Health Professional and Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional. Melissa loves working with those who are experiencing transition and change in their lives and wanting to better understand themselves in the process. In addition to training in therapeutic frameworks such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Melissa emphasizes the role of healthy relationships and attachment, with others and to yourself.

Melissa owns Inner Atlas Counseling based in the Winston Salem area and contracts with Certus Psychiatry and Lewisville Family Counseling. She is currently accepting self-pay while in pursuit of credentialing with other insurance panels.

CONNECT

Send her an email: inneratlascounseling@outlook.com

336-848-1179

Mary Kinken, D.Min
BIO

Since the age of six, horses have been a part of Mary’s life. Growing up, she enjoyed both dressage and combined training. At age 22, Mary sold her horse to study at Duke Divinity School and pursue ordination in the United Methodist Church. In 2004, she completed a Doctorate of Ministry in Pastoral Psychotherapy. She is a North Carolina Certified Pastoral Counselor and a Diplomate Psychotherapist in the Winston-Salem chapter of the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. 

Mary’s work includes psychodynamic therapy with individuals, couples, families and groups. She is an adjunct faculty member of Davidson Centre of the Professions and the CPSP Doctor of Ministry program in Hong Kong. Mary found the Eagala model to be a perfect integration of her connection to horses and the art of psychotherapy. She owns Perk of Art Wellness in Davidson and accepts private pay, BCBS-NC and Healthgram Insurance.

CONNECT

704.560.0525

Send her an email: mary.kinken@gmail.com