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|About||Our goal is to help people with mental health struggles get better and stay better by partnering with horses.|
|Mission||To improve the mental health and well-being of military service members and family members, at-risk youth, and others with mental health needs through equine assisted activities and therapies including counseling and psychotherapy, therapeutic activities, education, and community engagement.|
S.T.E.P.S. With Horses (STEPS) was created in 2017 by husband-and-wife team Hallie Sheade, Ph.D., LPC and Paul Ziehe (Marine Corps Veteran) in order to better meet a growing need for an alternative form of mental health therapy through equine-assisted activities and therapies, including counseling and psychotherapy, therapeutic activities, education, and community engagement.
Over the past three years, founder Dr. Sheade’s practice, Equine Connection Counseling (ECC), has provided over 3,800 hours of equine assisted counseling to military veterans and their family members, at-risk youth, and others with mental health needs. STEPS was born out of a vision to expand the work that ECC's already done and create a comprehensive equine assisted outpatient mental health treatment program.
Dr. Sheade noticed that many clients participating in equine assisted counseling were reluctant to end services once treatment goals had been met, as they did not want to lose the connection with the horse. Many of these clients likely experienced regression following termination of services as can be typical in mental health care. Thus was born the Spectrum of Therapeutic Equine-Partnered Services (S.T.E.P.S. Model) to provide multiple levels of mental health care in the form of mental health counseling and psychotherapy (treatment) and post-treatment support at one location.
Even with minimal marketing, clients have sought out ECC’s services as an alternative approach to mental health counseling. As shown in the graphs to the right, the demand for equine assisted counseling has been overwhelming. The lengthy year-end waitlists are in part due to both a lack of funding and facility limitations.
STEPS was established to 1) provide financial assistance and scholarship programs through grants and tax-exempt donations for these vulnerable populations, 2) overcome current facility limitations and 3) expand programming to provide supportive services to assist clients in maintaining posi