As a child Michelle Neaves loved horses. She read about them; drew them and wanted to be in their powerful presence as much as possible – much to the frustration of her parents. However, during adolescence she had to unfortunately stop all involvement with horses as she developed a serious allergy to them and their environments. When Michelle became a mother, she attempted to get back into horses with her daughter, who was three at the time, but was saddened by the fact her allergies were still very much present. Michelle was an extremely happy parent when her daughter wanted to begin riding lessons at aged 10. Despite having to live vicariously through her daughter’s involvement with horses at the time, Michelle always felt relaxed and happy around these sentient beings.
Michelle moved to Canada from the UK in 2007. To assist her 15 year old daughter with the huge transition, Michelle quickly found a local riding stables for her daughter, to enable her to have something that was familiar to her. It was during this time, that Michelle noticed her allergies did not seem to be impacting her. As such, Michelle happily began riding lessons again in 2008 at the age of 39 and remembers feeling giddy with the excitement.
Michelle has completed a variety and seemingly extensive amount of training and qualifications in the UK and subsequently here in Canada from (not everything is listed here) a Certificate for Literacy & Numeracy Support; an BA Honours Degree in Community Justice Studies, NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) Level 4 in Community Justice (working with Offending Behaviour); Diploma in Probation Studies, (which is a culmination of the Honours BA degree and the NVQ level 4). Solution Focused Counselling Certificate; Motivational Interviewing Techniques; Anger Replacement Training; Drink Impaired Drivers Program, Sex Offender Training; Working with Domestic Violence perpetrators; Working with Unpredictable Behaviour; Women with Substance Abuse, Suicide Intervention certificate; CPR; Cultural Awareness and diversity training; a variety of Dr Gordon Neufeld’s paradigm around attachment and relationship including his Level 1 & 2. Dr Bruce Perry’s Nuerosequential Model of Therapeutics and became FEEL certified (Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning). She is currently – as of 2015 – completing a certification in Trauma Counselling.
In 2009, Michelle had a traumatic personal event that changed the purpose and eventual direction of her life and chosen career. Later in that same year, Michelle and her daughter purchased their first horse, Michelle was in heaven. It was this purchase that opened Michelle’s eyes to the world of Equine Facilited Learning (EFL); Equine Facilitated Wellenss (EFW); Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) and FEEL (Facilitated Equine Experiential Learning). Michelle’s private practice – “Heart and Mind Counselling Services” – strengthening people in making sense of life’s challenges through counselling and equine therapeutic practices – combines working with the horse as teacher and partner along side her extensive background of working with people to assist change.
Michelle’s working career has included youth work, working in the UK educational system for over seven years with 11-16 years old who had been permanently excluded from mainstream school who presented with emotional and behavioural problems. Michelle was seconded to set up a pilot project for the grade 11’s to enter college a year early (UK Secondary schools finish in grade 11). After this, Michelle chose to change direction and work with adults involved with the Criminal Justice system. Here she found her niche for over seven years working with medium to very high risk of harm offenders. Her work as a Probation Officer (like a Canadian’s Parole Officer) involved not only working with offenders; writing reports for Crown and Magistrates courts and assessing risk but also developing and maintaining close working partnerships with other government and local agencies.
When Michelle moved to Canada, her career changed direction. She worked at the local Women’s Outreach where she developed the Safe Visitation program and trained the staff on how to supervise the visits. She was also involved in the setting up of a program with other local agencies for the children (8-12’s) who had been affected by domestic abuse. Michelle changed jobs in 2008 and gained employment with WJS Family Intervention Program as a Parent Consultant working with high risk clients involved with Social Services – where she still works today. Here she works with the parents, foster parents, schools and other kinship homes that are involved with the children that have files open with social services. Here she works in the clients homes assisting people to have new lenses in which to see their children through, by working through the lenses of attachment and relationship.