Equine Assisted Trainers – Institute Faculty

Meggin Kirby

Senior Trainer / Supervisor

Trainers - Equine Psychotherapy Institute - Victoria, AU

(BA(Psychology), MASW (Social Work), Dip Gestalt Therapy)

Founder of The Equine Psychotherapy Institute and The Animal Assisted Psychotherapy Institute.

Psychotherapist, Gestalt Therapist, Equine Assisted Psychotherapist, Animal Assisted Psychotherapist, Mental Health Social Worker

I began my Mental Health Social Work and Gestalt Therapy practice over 22 years ago, specialising in Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health (in the then CAMHS) in child assessment, psychotherapy, parent therapy, family therapy and case management. In addition to working in both inpatient adolescent and out-patient child and adolescent teams,  I worked with adults with a major diagnosis, complex needs and homelessness for many years, until I developed my private practice offering assessment and psychotherapy services to children, adolescents, adults, couples and families. I love the depth of the Psychotherapy work I have been able to offer my clients over the years, and, I am aware that my work with clients (and now students) supports me to be the ‘best’ I can be – aware, grounded, present and connected. The work with animals supports this process beautifully.

I now work as a Trainer, Supervisor, Psychotherapist, Coach and Facilitator with Individual, Couples, Families and Groups. I find my work enriching and a privilege. Currently, I am enjoying working with groups with horses in equine assisted psychotherapy and learning programs, including counselling teams, personal development groups, corporate leadership groups, and supervision groups.

I care for and live with a herd of 12 horses, where I developed the unique EPI Model of EAP and EAL and I-Thou Horsepersonship,  that I teach to our equine assisted students. I have been training and certifying both Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning student practitioners now for 9 years, since 2011. This program is specifically designed for people wishing to include their horses into the Psychotherapy process or Experiential Learning process.

I also live with my dog, Bear (Japanese Spitz), two cats (Tilly and Pumpkin) and rabbits (Darcy, Cookie and Possum), and have been further developing my Human-Animal I-Thou Bond with my inter-species family. Bear and Tilly are included in my Psychotherapy sessions (in AAP) and my rabbits are now ready for AAP sessions- their hutch is ready to incorporate more of a therapy zoo environment, including tunnels and equipment for the bunnies and chairs for humans as well!

Many years ago I started reading about Equine facilitated Psychotherapy and Learning, Equine assisted psychotherapy, and the diverse equine inspired learning programs and theories around the world. This was a natural progression for me because animals in general and horses specifically had always been incredible personal growth teachers for me – facilitating my awareness, supporting my own personal work, and continuing growth journey. I wrote my first paper on Equine Assisted Psychotherapy processes 14 years ago. From 2008, I trained in many internationally recognised models of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Facilitated Learning.

I developed the first Australian model, The Equine Psychotherapy Institute Model (EPI Model), which is a comprehensive and coherent Psychotherapy Model of both Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning. I recently authored my first book on the same topic. The EPI Model offers the field an in-depth and sophisticated psychotherapy model of EAP and EAL that is all inclusive, and theoretically comprehensive.

I am now excited to offer the Animal Assisted Psychotherapy Institute Training and Certification to students who are looking for an in-depth psychotherapy model of AAP, safely including a variety of animals into the psychotherapy process. The AAP approach we teach is founded on psychotherapy theory and practice, ethics, animal behaviour and welfare, is relationally-focused, trauma-informed and wholistic – where the practitioner is trained to assess and intervene at the level of physiology (nervous system), body, emotion, cognition, behaviour and relationship – treating the whole person in psychotherapy. I am super excited to offer this innovative AAP Training to Australian and International students passionate about animals and helping people heal and grow in counselling and psychotherapy.

My vision is to support people all around the world to reconnect with their deeper nature, become aware, expressive, choiceful and compassionate … with animals as their wonderful teachers, supports, assistants and dear friends. My love of animals and the human-animal bond, is the main motivation for me in offering this training, to support a world where animals are not used as objects for human consumption or entertainment, but,  cared for and honoured as fellow sentient beings, friends and teachers in many ways.

Noel Haarburger

Noel Haarburger Equine Therapy trainerSenior Trainer – B.B.SC, B’Ed (counseling), Adv Dip Gestalt Therapy, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP). MAPS. ClinGANZ, Psychologist, Gestalt Therapist, and Trainer at GTA.

Noel has been a faculty member and trainer at GTA (Gestalt Therapy Australia) since 2001, and now works in full time private practice as a Psychologist and Psychotherapist working with individuals and couples, as well as offering supervision to allied health professionals. He also practices and offers Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Animal Assisted Psychotherapy (canine).

He has worked extensively in a wide variety of counselling and psychological services since 1995, including most recently the role of Senior Psychologist at Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre for 4 years. Previous to this he has worked in family counselling, drug and alcohol, sexual assault, problematic gambling, men’s behavioural change programs, and the mental health fields.

Noel has a special interest in Trauma and Body Work, as well as integrating developmental/attachment perspectives, Buddhist psychology and non-dual spiritual approaches into his work. He is a certified ‘Somatic Experiencing’ practitioner, which utilises highly effective and safe body awareness methods for negotiating and releasing trauma, developed by Peter Levine. Noel is also an ongoing student of the ‘Diamond Heart approach’, a western psycho-spiritual school that integrates mindfulness, western depth psychology, Sufism and Buddhist approaches to personal and spiritual development.

Noel is excited about the human-animal connection and the power of animal assisted psychotherapy in his practice. He co-facilitates with Meg offering the Foundation and Advanced trauma training in EAP/EAL Trainng and the Advanced Trauma program for the AAP Training.

Sue Lamond

EPI Trainer – A Registered Counsellor, Advanced EPI Therapist, Adult Education Trainer and Supervisor for the Equine Psychotherapy Institute and Lifeline, Life Coach, and 4th Year Gestalt Masters student.

I began study many years ago with an interest in how humans relate to each other and why we respond in life the way we do. My curiosity has always been to explore the balance of human born and conditioned responses. This curiosity has driven my interest as a lifelong learner and trainer in this field. My studies have been in counselling, training, and life coaching, even exploring alternate therapies models to expand my knowledge. My most recent study has been, a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy.

My deep love and respect of horses had me bring the human development and the horse love together into the equine assisted psychotherapy field. I have been working in this field for ten years, initially studying other EAP models until finding one that felt more congruent with myself, and more comprehensive and effective for my clients. I am very passionate about the Equine Psychotherapy Institute model, which drove my decision to become a trainer and supervisor for the Institute, as well as going on to further training in working with trauma, children and adolescence, and veterans advanced workshops, leading to becoming an advanced practitioner with the Institute.

Working in private practice at Northern Rivers Equine Assisted Psychotherapy in Kyogle, the far north of New South Wales, I have a beautiful heard of horses and a therapy / training facility where I work with individuals and small groups. As a therapist my special interest is in working with trauma, as well as personal and professional development and leadership. I am always excited to support new practitioners to learn the EPI model well, and practice in a way that is going to support them and their clients best.

I offer training in the EPI model to new practitioners at my facility which is situated just below the QLD border in NSW for those interested in becoming EAP or EAL practitioners in this field.

Louise Atkinson

EPI Trainer – ACA Registered Counsellor, EPI Trainer and supervisor, 4 Star Parelli Professional.

I have been involved with horses since I was 10 years old and am experienced in many equine disciplines.

I have been a Natural Horsemanship Instructor since 1996 where I have been helping people understand their horses so they can develop better relationships and work together harmoniously. This usually meant the human needed  to change both mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This inspired me to look into EAL so that I can help people that don’t have their own horses to become the best versions of themselves that they can be. I am also passionate about helping those that are less fortunate to become who they want to be.

I live in Bullsbrook with my small herd of horses who ably assist my clients to become aware of whatever they need to become aware of in their journey of self-discovery and personal growth. I love what my herd offer each person, and I never know what their offer might be. They really surprise me sometimes with their intuitive behaviours. It keeps the work alive and interesting for me.

I work with individuals, teenager to adult, women’s groups and corporate groups. I specialise in addiction recovery support as well as trauma therapy. I offer the EPI model practitioner training in Western Australia. I have developed a business essentials program to help new practitioners start up their own businesses.  I also offer individual support through Skype and telephone for those that are unable to be with me in person.

Paula Jewell

Program Manager

I am better known to my friends as Hey Chicken Lady!

I am honoured to be part of the team here at The Equine Psychotherapy Institute where I am delighted to fill the role of Program Manager whilst also completing my studies in Counselling and Psychology.

I come from a background working in Human Services, focusing on the areas of homelessness, youth at risk and domestic violence before a career (and tree) change led my husband and I to country Victoria in 2012 where I began working fulltime at Edgar’s Mission Farm Animal Sanctuary. Here my love for all animals and my ability to naturally connect with them was nurtured and I gained invaluable firsthand experience in what relational interactions with animals (particularly prey species) truly entail. I have experience in caring for the lifelong physical, social and emotional needs of many species, including horses, cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, alpacas, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, ducks, dogs, cats and even a peacock! Throughout my years with this organisation I wore many hats including but not limited to Animal Care Manager, Communications and Social Media Officer, Education Assistant, Accounts and Payroll Officer and, perhaps most importantly, Personal Assistant to a very special, rescued battery hen named Little Miss Sunshine! It was this relationship with Little Miss Sunshine, and then the thousands of other chickens I helped rescue and care for, that truly opened my eyes and my heart to the intrinsic wisdom of animals as well as their abilities to breakdown our barriers to connection and transform our lives in the most meaningful of ways.

When I’m not in Hey Chicken Lady mode, I’m still in Hey Chicken Lady mode as my husband Darin and I run a small chicken microsanctuary called Sunshine Place where we rescue and rehabilitate chickens in need. We also share our hearts and home with Dini and Wallace the dogs, Lily, Bet and Celia our cats and Charlie our horse.

I’m excited to meet you all and experience this enriching and heart opening journey together. Thanks for helping to make our world a more beautiful place.

Jo Steiner

Jo SteinerStudent Support and Certification Manager

I live with my dog Wombat, cat Jasmine and two sons in the Daylesford area. I have a lifelong love of animals (and their ability to co-regulate). I began my studies in Biology, and completed an Honours Bachelor degree in Zoology at Monash University. Subsequently I landed a job at the Veterinary School, Melbourne Uni, which progressed to a PhD studying the immune system of sheep! In the early 2000’s I met my husband, moved to the country and started a family. I decided to retrain, and was drawn to the EPI Model of equine assisted practice. In February 2019 I completed the Foundation EAL Training. I began working at the Institute earlier in 2019 with farm and administration duties. My new role is Student Support & Certification Manager supporting students to complete the training and complete certification requirements, submitting integration papers, exams, CDP requirements, and online networking co-ordinator going for EPI Zoom Network Meetings. I am hoping to offer all students and practitioners ongoing support as needed, to stay connected to our wonderful EPI community!

Valence Williams

Equine Specialist

I offer equine specific support to students at the Institute. I teach our 2 day Equine Studies and Horsemanship Clinic at the Institute, and offer private, online support and coaching at Soul Horse Revolution (Ballarat based). I previously focused on training horses for people, however now my Soul Horse Revolution consulting coaches people for horses!  Horsemanship coaching with SHR is science based and relationship-centred and supports horse people to develop two-way communication and calmness in their horsemanship practice.

I am also a Meditation teacher and teach Meditation with horses.  I have studied Equine Psychology, EPI EAL certification, and I’m registered as a professional member of the IICT (International Institute for Complementary Therapies) recognised in the modalities of Equine Meditation, Meditation Teaching, Holistic Counselling and Personal Training.

I will be offering supervision sessions and support for students looking to integrate ponies or horses into their AAP. I look forward to getting to know you all.

One Day Introduction to Equine Therapy Trainers


Deborah Walker

Deborah Walker Equine Therapy trainerEPI Supervisor and One Day Introduction to Equine Therapy Trainer

Trained in the UK, I migrated to Australia in 1993 and I am a fully registered Generalist Psychologist with over 19 years experience, working in organizational, clinical and health psychology.  I along with my husband Noel am a director of Trinity Psychologists Pty Ltd, which was formed in 1999 and has provided psychological services to the Public, Corporate and Education sector since then.

I am passionate about recovery from trauma, positive psychology, positive workplace cultures, positive leadership and actively seeking wellbeing and I am well-known speaker on these topics around Australia. I am even more passionate about the EPI model and the way horses can and do transform therapy and learning. I have been working with my herd of horses since completing my foundation training in 2016 and am continually amazed and professionally refreshed by what the horses have to offer our clients.

I completed the Trauma intensive in 2017 and I am currently in the second year of training with Somatic Experiencing Australia.

I have had the privilege of living with horses for 15 years and now live on the beautiful sunshine coast with my herd, my 4 dogs, chickens and my wonderful husband who is also a psychologist and EAP practitioner.

I love training and am so proud to have the opportunity to bring this wonderful model to students wishing to study on the sunshine coast.

Bianca Stawiarski

Bianca StawiarskiEPI Model EAP Practitioner
Holistic Animal Assisted Psychotherapist
Bush Psychotherapist
Transformational Coach
Trauma-informed Counsellor
Master Counselling Practice, Dip.LifeCoach, BA.AboriginalStudies, Dip.Contracting(Gov)

“Assisting you to explore, embrace and reconnect with your inner fire”

Bianca Stawiarski, from Warida Wholistic Wellness is fiercely passionate about facilitating community change one person at a time. She does this through empowering people to explore, embrace and move through distress, disillusionment or trauma. In addition to her formal qualifications, she brings a wealth of experience in working with people from a variety of backgrounds and over 38 years horse riding / handling experience.

Bianca is a Badimaya (Aboriginal) woman and specifically recognised for her work with Indigenous people, outreach services to rural / regional areas, and assisting people to embrace their empowered uniqueness. She balances western qualifications with her Indigenous connectedness and views wellbeing through Warida’s (wedge-tailed eagle) eyes. Her work is further enhanced by being a professional Transformational, Business and Confidence-Building Coach both within Australia and overseas. She also is the only person in the world utilising horse archery as a therapeutic modality. Bianca provides consultancy training services around the world, including facilitating online courses and is EPI’s South Australian trainer.

Warida Wholistic Wellness is a Certified Indigenous business through Supply Nation and as such meets Indigenous Procurement Policy guidelines. Bianca has a current DHS Working with Children clearance and Child Safe RAN, DHS Disability Services Employment clearance, National Police Check and is fully covered by insurance. Based at Lower Hermitage (in the SA Adelaide Hills)

Lisa Robertson-Smith



Steph Milburn

Steph MilburnEPI Supervisor, Counsellor and business owner at Melbourne Equine Assisted Counselling on the outskirts of the Mornington Peninsula.

I am a qualified counsellor registered with the ACA and certified with EPI as an EAP practitioner. I work from my home in private practice with a herd of 7, including 3 miniature ponies, dogs, cats and chickens. I’m passionate about the EPI model and specialise in working with children and adolescents with trauma backgrounds and special needs but also work with adults. I offer individual sessions and some group school holiday programs that focus on the principals of the Horse Wisdom Program.

I have a background working in primary school settings and was also a riding instructor coaching for over 10 years and ran my own riding school helping children and adults to connect with horses. I now work full time from home whilst also being a mum to two beautiful little girls.

I offer supervision via zoom/phone for those of you working specifically with children who need support with this tricky population who don’t always fit the EAP structured process! I look forward to chatting with you (EPI Students and Practitioners) if you have any questions.

Nadine Delaney

Nadine DelaneyEPI Supervisor

I’m an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker and with my herd of 5 horses and ponies, puppies and cats, I work in private practice in the Hunter Valley in NSW. Along with being an EPI trained EAP, I am also registered with Medicare and the NDIS. My work background includes roles in Child Protection, Out of Home Care, investigations, carer training and assessment, staff training, compliance and practice quality.

I work mostly with children and young people who have special needs, trauma, mental health challenges and a range of disabilities. I generally offer individual sessions during the school terms and I also run The Horse Wisdom program for groups during the school holidays.

I am very grateful to have been invited to be a supervisor with the EPI. I’m able to offer sessions in person (to those local), over the phone or through zoom/facetime. I hope to be able to support people to work creatively with children and young people, implementing the Horse Wisdom program, with both individuals and small groups and offering our amazing EPI model of Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning. I’m also open to sharing my experiences of starting out in private practice (which was a little scary after so many years working for government and non-government agencies) and navigating the ‘wonderful world’ of the NDIS. Please let me know if I can assist and I look forward to getting to know everyone along the way.

Lisa Toman

Lisa Toman - Equine Psychotherapy Institute facultyEPI Supervision/Psychotherapist
Gestalt Psychotherapy (MA)
Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (Advanced Cert)
Outdoor Leadership (Cert)
Sensory Motor Art Therapy (Cert)
Systemic Family Constellations (Facilitator training Cert)

For as long as she can remember Lisa was outside. She has a particular interest in the interconnectedness, of all living things. How this relates to our, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. How relationship with the natural world, including animals, horses, nature and art can enrich our lives, enhance our sense of wellbeing, belonging, connectedness, ease, wonder and aliveness, make us better equipped to meet challenges.

In her work with people Lisa draws over nineteen years experience, a background in Outdoor Leadership, Gestalt Psychotherapy; Equine Assisted Psychotherapy; Mindfulness; Embodied Awareness; Creative and Expressive Art therapy.

Particularly interested in expanding the human relational field and the benefits of the natural world in supporting the healing of trauma. Lisa has worked extensively in a variety of counselling and psychological services, including most recently the role of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy specialist and individual therapist at Byron Private Treatment Centre for 5 years. She also has experience in related areas and has worked in drug and alcohol, disordered eating, trauma recovery, and mental health fields.

One of Lisa’s greatest passions is supporting and mentoring students, through their professional modalities and their personal life. Available for both Supervision and Psychotherapy face to face or online to EPI students, trainees and practitioners.

In her personal experience, based in beautiful Byron Bay, Lisa is a mother to three grown boys. You’ll most likely find her canoeing on the Brunswick River, riding on the beach with friends or exploring and
wandering in nature.