AAP Training Faculty

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Our Faculty live, breathe, love and learn with animals, and are passionate about how animals, and being in relationship with animals, can support us to learn about ourselves, life and the natural world.

Being in relationship with animals can support health, well-being, growth and healing in unique and wonderful ways.

Join our community, and step into your dream practice – combining your love of animals and desire to help people heal, grow, develop and change.

Meg Kirby

Senior Trainer/ Supervisor
Animal Assisted Psychotherapy Trainer
(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 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. After more recently attending training with the Delta Institute (Animal Behaviour and Training), Linda Chassman (AAT Programs of Colorado) and Nancy Parish-Plass (including hosting Nancy all the way from Israel, to co-facilitate a 5 day training on neuroscience of working with children with developmental trauma in AAP), I became passionate  about the need for a comprehensive, experientially-based,  psychotherapeutically-oriented, training and certification program in AAP.
The AAP Training model we teach is founded on psychotherapy theory and practice, clinical know-how, neuroscience, 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 and fostering wellbeing 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, psychotherapy and experiential learning.
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

Senior Trainer
Animal Assisted Psychotherapy Senior 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.

Paula Jewell

Program Support / Animal Specialist
Animal Assisted Psychotherapy Trainer Support

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

I am honoured to be part of the team here at Animal Assisted Psychotherapy Training where I am delighted to assist with Program and Student Support.

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 many years of 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.

I have experience in positive reinforcement and clicker training and have even attended Terry Ryan’s Chicken Camp as well as developed a web series displaying the incredible cognitive abilities of chickens. For me however, training is and has always been about the relationship and trust that is built between human and animal and this is something I am passionate about honouring any time I conduct a presentation.

When I’m not in Hey Chicken Lady mode, my husband Darin and I can usually be found finding ways to enrich the lives of the two beloved dogs with whom we share our home, rescuing houseplants from the claws of one of three cats or in the garden, drinking copious amounts of coffee and attempting to read a book but inevitably getting distracted by the antics of five gregarious and inquisitive rescued chickens.

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.

Valence Williams

Equine Specialist
Animal Assisted Therapy Equine Support

I offer equine specific support to students. 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.