Since I can remember there have been three unwavering traits that have defined who I am.

  1. I am curious – wildly, voraciously, and sometimes annoyingly.
  2. I am passionate – and beyond all else about nature and animals.
  3. I am an avid reader and I love to write.

From the time I was young these three characteristics have guided the majority of my pursuits. For me, there is a profound beauty in seeking out information, understanding intricate or complex patterns, and finding a way to clearly articulate all of this using approachable language that embraces thoughts, feelings, emotions, and facts.

Beyond the one or two classes offered in my Masters program, I am a self-taught researcher. I took on my first research project at age 20, when I was hired by the Animal Therapy Association of Arizona to study the emergence of equine-facilitated psychotherapy programs at therapeutic riding centers across the country. Shortly thereafter, I traveled through Europe studying the differences between men and women as a part of an independent study I designed to meet the requirements for a gender studies course.

Although I knew nothing of the Grounded Theory research method at the time, I quickly recognized that my research journeys would be defined not by investigating a “problem” or proposing a hypothesis, but rather by collecting the stories of the people I met and learning something unexpected from their experiences and wisdom.

I developed a method for my research that included how I collected and coded the data, and how I located my “sample”, or the people I chose to include in my study.  I also learned to use comprehensive literature reviews to further support the emergence of themes or theories. Through this process I was delighted and amazed to watch as seemingly unrelated pieces of data would align to form recognizable patterns.

As I went on to conduct my Masters thesis research and subsequently, the research for my first book, I continued to develop and refine a specific process of responsive coding that helped me conceptualize and identify emerging themes in both literature and interviews. It has only been in the past few years that I learned how closely my process mirrored Grounded Theory research, and I’ve finally come to realize that maybe after all there was a “method to my madness”.

To date I have published two books and a workbook, all three related to my research in the area of equine-assisted activities and therapies. But, of course my curiosity leads me on, so next I intend to broaden my scope to include the topics of experiential psychotherapy, integrative health, and the connection between animals, nature, and health.

Walking the Way of the Horse

The Clinical Practice of Equine-Assisted Therapy

The Equine-Assisted Therapy Workbook