Welcoming Kaitlan Stephens (CSU Graduate Intern)

Kaitlan Stephens (Fall semester, 2023-Spring Semester, 2024)

I completed my bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a minor in Psychology from Auburn University in 2011.  I then moved to Spain where I worked as an English teacher and completed a master’s degree in Multicultural and Bilingual Education from Universidad de Alcala in 2013.  My interest in learning about other cultures and my professional background led me to pursue opportunities in Spain, Vermont, China, the Netherlands, and ultimately Colorado.  My decision to pursue a career change in clinical mental health counseling after nearly a decade working in education was prompted by both professional and personal experiences related to mental health.  In May of 2024, I will be graduating with a master’s degree in Counseling and Career Development with a specialization in Clinical Mental Health.  I am currently working as a graduate research assistant for a faculty member on their research related to supporting Latina breast cancer survivors and their caregivers.  In my practicum experience working with clients, I have focused on narrative therapy and techniques, and I am excited to expand on that work in my internship incorporating an arts-informed approach under the supervision of Dr. Warson.  Additionally, I have been volunteering at the Temple Grandin Equine Center for over a year supporting various equine-assisted services.  I have always been captivated by the way horses can connect with us and reflect back to us.  I look forward to diving deeper into this work with Dr. Warson.  I am thrilled to complete my internship in a setting that combines so many of my personal and professional interests, and my goal, regardless of modality or technique, is to create a space where my clients feel safe and supported while navigating their own mental health journeys. 

Honoring the Summer Solstice

Healing Pathways is pleased to be hosting a community event: Honoring the Summer Solstice with Tai Chi-Inspired Herd Meditation led by Sifu Kurtis Tilley, LMT. Come join us on the longest day of the year, June 21 at 8:57 am, and meditate through movement in the presence of horses. Donations welcome. Please contact Elizabeth@healingpathwaysllc.com for details.

A Mustang Named Roxanne

Our EMDRIA conference submission for Aug., 2023 was rejected. I’m sharing the pilot data that we plan to submit for publication–we are also including this in an upcoming HHRF grant.


Single Case Study: State Shifting and Resourcing with a Mustang named Roxanne

This single case study considers resourcing self-care and state shifting to a sense of calm with a mustang named Roxanne, using the EquiLateral™ approach to equine-assisted EMDR. Equine-Assisted EMDR (E-A EMDR) integrates Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP). There is a paucity of research on equine-assisted EMDR and this single case study comprises innovative research in this area. The researchers in the single case study, involving an N of 1, trial were trained in 2021 in the EquiLateral™ approach to equine-assisted EMDR. Our aim was to measure pre and post Heart Rate (HR) in relation to 2 resourcing interventions from our EquiLateral™ training. Our volunteer participant was a 56-year-old frontline worker who experienced symptoms of PTSD from a recent traumatic brain injury. An BAAB design (intervention-baseline, baseline-intervention) was used in this single case study: session 1. Equine-Assisted EMDR resourcing session with an equine specialist and mental health professional; session 2. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy with a mental health professional; session 3. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy with a mental health professional; and session 4.  Equine-Assisted EMDR Calm/Safe Place intervention with an equine specialist and mental health professional. What resulted from this single case study was a 10-point reduction in HR (most positive change) with the first intervention re: resourcing self-care. The second intervention noted a 5-point reduction in HR as the Equine-Assisted EMDR Calm/Safe Place, that became a session on state shifting disorientation to a sense of calm for both the mustang and participant. The findings support a method of capacity building through Equine-Assisted EMDR with respect to EMDR Phase 2: Preparation and Stabilization as well as positive resourcing. The limitations of this study consider a focus on feasibility and HR. Future research in Equine-Assisted EMDR is needed to explore the efficacy of this approach with the 8 phases of EMDR treatment.

Jenkins, S. (2021). EquiLateral: The equine assisted-EMDR protocol. (2nd ed.). Dragonfly International Counseling, LLC.

Scientific Version:

We conducted a case-study in a 56-year individual presenting with traumatic symptoms and a history of head trauma using the EquiLateral™ (i.e., EMDR-HU) approach. Sessions were described as 1) EMDR-HU resourcing session with an equine specialist and mental health professional; 2) Standard EAP with a mental health professional; 3) Standard EAP with a mental health professional; 4) EMDR-HU Calm/Safe Place intervention with an equine specialist and mental health professional. Session 1 resulted in a decrease of 10 points in overall HR. Session 2 was associated with a 5-point reduction in HR. A physical response was noted for both EAP and EMDR-HU in this case study, which is the first of its kind to establish EMDR-HU as a comparison to standard EAP.  

Vernal Spring Equinox Celebration

Healing Pathways is pleased to be hosting a community event:

Honoring Vernal Spring Equinox with Tai Chi-Inspired Herd Meditation led by Sifu Kurtis Tilley, LMT. Come join us on the Spring Equinox, March 20th, 3:24 pm MST and meditate through movement in the presence of horses. Restore balance during this time of equal day to equal night. Suggested donation: $20.

RSVP for additional information and Fort Collins barn location elizabeth@healingpathwaysllc.com.

Welcoming UNC Undergraduate Psychology Intern: Bridgette O’Boyle

In terms of my educational background, I graduated from Front Range Community College (FRCC) with an Associates of Arts Degree–that opened the door to my academic journey of pursuing psychology. In August of 2022, I started at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) to work on my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, successfully completing a capstone research paper on Euthanasia, which was submitted to UNC’s Spring Research Day. I will be graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from UNC in the summer of 2023, and then in the fall of 2023, I will be starting a Master’s Degree program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. 

Personally, I have experienced and seen how powerful and amazing horses are with helping individuals cope with stress in their lives. Along with receiving my master’s degree, I will also be getting certified in equine-assisted EMDR and equine assisted psychotherapy. My goal is to have my own private practice in clinical mental health counseling for children and adolescents integrating both equine-assisted EMDR and equine assisted psychotherapy. In the meantime, I am really enjoying doing my internship with Dr. Elizabeth Warson assisting with evaluative data for the Visual Journaling Project, through Dr. Cathy Malchiodi’s Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute

Wisdom for the Winter Season

Coco Chanel in her warm, heavy weight blanket

An Expressive Arts Therapy Practice to Embrace the Wisdom of Winter

Representation of my inner wise self: Clay, painting, magazine photo collage, mixed media collage, altered image, copies of personal photographs.

Bilateral dialogue: Fold a piece of paper in half. Select two colors (writing medium) to represent your image (wise self; interviewee) and one to represent yourself (interviewer). Your image responds with your non-dominant hand while you respond with your dominant hand.

Questions you can ask your image: (examples)

What needs releasing (myths, negative beliefs)?

What needs (re)claiming and embracing (gifts, strengths, passions)?

What’s next for me?

What is your gift to me?

Fold your paper to show how your wise self responded–read aloud to yourself or to a trusted person

Is there a message or metaphor that stands out?

(Please note the above practice does not constitute therapy.)

Copyright 2022 Elizabeth Warson

Earth/Ground/Touch Practice

Stand, take your shoes off (optional), sense the contact points (tripod), envision a root emanating from the center part of your feet. Your legs may feel heavy—“melt” into this.  Push palms out to center and envision a root in the center of the palm.

Hold, touch, caress a rock, shell or natural object that may have a symbolic meaning to you or has a tactile quality that complements sitting on the ground (you can move from standing to sitting on the ground). Allow a gesture or moment to emerge from this experience. Express this movement unilaterally or bilaterally in the air; transfer this experience to a response painting using a painting medium of choice (vertical or horizontal surface).

10 butterfly taps or long slow exhale while looking at your response painting. Write down 4 gerunds (“ing” words) about this experience.

Using clay or comparable medium, explore the movement/gesture/rhythm that emerged from your drawing/painting process, consider a sound or vocalization that may be connected with this experience. Notice any body sensations and be curious with it. While moving your hands across your clay piece verbally express the properties or characteristics that stand out to you–write these down. Combine one word from your clay response with one gerund from your list of 4. End with 10 butterfly taps or a long slow exhale.

Ó 2021-2022 Elizabeth Warson