Ann O’Brien is a retired Nationally Certified School Counselor (NCSC) and Guidance Department Chair, with over 35 years of experience working in the mental health profession. Certified with a MS from Johns Hopkins in Professional Counseling, Ann specializes in working with students K-12 and their families. As a trained Traumatic Loss Counselor she supports individuals during trauma work using Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) therapeutic model. She is: the co-founder of H.O.P.E. LLC, an equine Assisted Learning program; Eagala Advanced Certified; Eagala Certified Mentor; Natural Lifemanship Fundamentals Certified. Ann has presented at National Conferences on the topics of Trauma work, Equine Assisted Therapy and is the co-author of two Eagala endorsed books: Equi-Fit: Health and Wellness through Horses and EquiPower. Currently, Ann co-facilitates Eagala approved workshops based on Trauma Focused- CBT /TBRI and horses for healing in South Carolina. She continues to partner with horses in order to empower individuals to make connections and develop healthy relationships with self and others.
"In order to know where you are going you have to know where you have been." by George Santayana. I believe that this quote emphasizes the Eagala model by treating trauma with the power of horses. The very first thing we talk about with our clients and their caregivers is what safety looks like on the farm while they introduce themselves to the horses and complete assessment forms. These answers help us to know where they are coming from in order to plan their goals. A major outcome of trauma is fear and the horses help to create a "felt safe" environment -through experiential learning with the horses the kids are having fun. Fear is overruled by Fun! Clients and caregivers learn about the traumatized brain and why making a connection with a horse helps clients move out of their survival brain and into their thinking brain. Building relationships and connecting with horses helps to develop skills to transfer into relationships outside of sessions. Most issues clients wish to address involve some aspect of relationships. I am passionate about this work because clients learn and apply positive coping skills in order to keep themselves safe and develop healthy relationships while interacting with the horses. Relationships are the vehicle for change and healing."