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Our Whole Heart Team

Our Whole Heart Team are highly experienced, certified and licensed mental health and equine professionals .  

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Amy Schilder, Director

Amy is NW Hearts United EFS’s Director.  She has 25 years in art and equine experiential educational programming in Houston, TX and the Upper Puget Sound region.  Amy brings a combination of experience in nonprofit management and in providing equine-facilitated methods for growth, learning and therapy.  Amy is certified by the Professional Association for Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) as an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning (ESMHL), the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) and by the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA).  

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Beth Pruitt

Beth is an equine specialist and mental health counselor.  Beth is currently a Special Education teacher with a MA in Mental Health Counseling and a background in youth and family services.  She has worked in many different roles supporting youth since high school, and started working in equine facilitated programs while getting her BA in Education from Washington State University. She has also had the privilege of having horses her entire life, spending most of her free time outside or in the barn.  She completed her EAGALA certification February of 2019 to add to her Mental Health and Education background. 


Laura Mote

Laura Mote is a Clinical Social Worker with a focus in Adolescent Trauma.  She graduated with an Master of Social Work degree from Walla Walla University in 2014.  She is experienced in working with individuals that struggle with mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral concerns.  Laura believes a trauma informed approach to building relationships and connections through the horse human interaction are key in the healing process.  Laura is currently going through the Natural Lifemanship Certification process for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning.  

Selena Sena-Hopkins

LMHCA, Therapist.  Selena Sena-Hopkins graduated with her master’s degree in existential psychology from Seattle University in the Spring of 2017. She has been a therapist at Jumping Mouse Children’s Center since 2016. She found that she both delighted in and revered the variety of ways children would utilize the expressive freedom of play therapy.  Selena also has a background in visual art and philosophy, and a long history connecting her to horses. She has volunteered with programs that connect adults and children with horses, such as the Wounded Warriors Project. She also volunteered at the King County Crisis Clinic as a phone worker for two years.


Lorna Shepardson

Lorna is an Equine Mental Health Specialist.  She holds an MA in Applied Behavioral Sciences from the Leadership Institute at Bastyr University. She has worked in social services for more than 12 years with children, at risk youth, individuals and families. Lorna owns Therapy ‘N Motion, a private practice in Bellingham, WA. Lorna has trained with Leigh Shambo’s Human Equine Alliance and Learning (HEAL) program for trauma survivors using equine facilitated psychotherapy, and with Linda Kohanov’s Epona Advanced Study Experience. She is a certified instructor and an Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning through the Professional Assoc. for Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) and Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Assoc.(EAGALA).


Pat Rutz

Pat Rutz, Equine Specialist in training, has 25 years of horse experience.  Her experience bridges everything from raising babies, to maintaining the extremely aged, to Natural Horsemanship training, to barn ownership. Pat and her husband, Denny, operate and graciously share their facility, Emily’s Stables in Stanwood, WA.  EFMHL opened a whole new world of possibilities for her.  “I bought my barn with the express purpose of having a therapy program, with the possibility of my mares being an integral part. It has been an amazing experience and incredibly fulfilling to have an active part in the healing process. It’s an honor to work with the horses and see them do their magic.”


Laura Schonberg

Laura is an Equine Specialist in training.  From a young age she showed competitively. Laura has a BA in Abnormal Psychology, with minors in English and Special Education, and Masters in Education from the University of Washington.  After ten years of teaching in alternative educational settings, Laura completed her PK-12 certification in school administration from Western Washington University and continued as a school principal and program director at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.  In 2021, Laura will have completed her EAGALA equine specialist and CHA certifications.  She currently volunteers with several equine-assisted service models in addition to clients at NW Hearts United, and re-starts foster horses through Skagit Animals in Need.  

Beth Avolio

Beth is a Ph.D. Psychologist and Advanced Practitioner of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) and a passionate believer in the efficacy of EFMHL to enhance personal insight and promote behavioral change with more than a decade experience and leadership in the field.  She is a licensed Psychologist in Washington, and Nebraska, is a founding member of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Assoc. (EAGALA) Advanced Certification where she holds an Advanced Certification  in the program, has been a Professional Assoc. for Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) Certified Instructor and was previously certified through CBEIP (Certification Board for Equine Interaction Professionals). 


Samantha Heath

Sam holds an BS in Psychology from the University of Washington.   She is a certified Equine Specialist through the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Assoc. (EAGALA).  In 2008, she graduated from the HEAL (Human Equine Alliance for Learning) Equine Facilitated Learning/Psychotherapy program.  Sam has also coordinated an Equine Intensive Workshop with Wyatt Webb (Psychotherapist and author of “It’s Not About the Horse”) and gone through the Horse Boy training method.  She has professionally involved in the field of EFMHL and Natural Horsemanship since 2004. 

The Horses...

Our herd members are truly the heart of everything. By working closely with facility partners and their amazing herds, we are able to offer a variety of programs that perfectly harmonize with our clients' needs and goals.  Each member of our equine team embrace their role as lead facilitators and we feel humbled to be able to partner with each and every one of them.

We invite you to meet a few here...

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