Cassandra Porter, M.S., Director of Equestrian Services
P.A.T.H. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor & Child Development Specialist
Cassandra Porter received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2015. Her desire to help special needs children and their families led her to pursue her M.S. in Human Development and Early Childhood Disorders from the University of Texas at Dallas. In Late 2016 she discovered the field of therapeutic horseback riding and immediately began volunteering at a center in Waxahachie. She quickly realized that she had found her calling and became a PATH certified instructor.
She has now joined the team at Paws as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor and Child Development Specialist. Cassandra specializes in providing early intervention therapy for children between the ages of birth to 6 years in many areas including gross motor, fine motor, speech and language, problem solving skills, sensory processing difficulties, adaptive life skills, social/behavioral skills, and literacy acquisition. She also functions as a central resource of knowledge and support for parents learning to cope with the birth of a special needs child or a new diagnosis. Cassandra believes strongly in the healing and motivating power of animals and a natural environment combined with evidence-based practices in helping little ones and their families overcome some of the obstacles that may hinder the pathway into a happy healthy childhood.
She is endorsed by First 3 Years (formerly Texas Association for Infant Mental Health). She specializes in utilizing animals and a natural environment to assist children and their families struggling with developmental delay or associated early childhood problems.
University of North Texas (UNT)
Paws for Reflection Ranch was selected by UNT for their Masters and Doctoral Students to obtain first-hand Animal Assisted Counseling experience toward their required internship hours. These interns are under the direction of Dr. Cynthia Chandler, Ed.D., LPC-S, MFT-S, Professor of Counseling. Dr. Chandler is also a Director of the Consortium for Animal Assisted Therapy. These interns allow us to offer services at a low cost for clients who can be flexible with their schedules.
Paws for Reflection Ranch has affiliation agreements with other universities to provide training on animal assisted counseling methods. Check with us to see if your university is included.
Marquin Malone Decker, M.S., LPC Associate, NCC
Under the supervision of Hallie Sheade, Ph.D, LPC-S, RPT-S
Marquin completed much of her internship at Paws, where she received supervision and training from animal-assisted counseling pioneer, Dr. Cynthia Chandler. She now joins the team as a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate and a graduate from the University of North Texas. Marquin obtained her Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from UNT (go MEAN GREEN!). Marquin is a National Certified Counselor and member of the American Counseling Association. Her treatment approach focuses on the body and mind holistic care from a mental health perspective. Marquin practices trauma-informed therapy for teens and young adults, as well as play therapy for children ages 3-10. She works to find where the anxiety is stored in the body and mind to heal towards mental and physical wellness. She has a great deal of experience working with those in crisis, who may be suffering from suicidal ideation, self-harm, family of origin concerns, and trauma. She is dedicated to meeting her clients and their families where they are to make therapy a collaborative and healing journey. Through partnering with the animals and equines at the ranch, Marquin believes in
walking alongside her clients while they tap into their innate healing abilities. She is also passionate about women’s emotional health and incorporating nature and expressive arts into the therapy process.
Educational Programs Coordinator
Susanna grew up in the DFW area, and later went on to receive her BS in Kinesiology from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. She taught secondary science in Texas public schools for 11 years, as well as coaching athletic and academic events.
Susanna learned about Paws For Reflection Ranch from one of her students n 2018 and has been volunteering regularly since then. She has participated in Paws 4 Fun after-school program, Paws Summer Camp, Girl Scout Badge Workshops, Therapeutic Horseback Riding, and many other events and programs hosted by the ranch.
Susanna has a passion for learning, nature, and animals. She is a fur mom to a special-needs cat.
Contact Suzanna : PawsForReflection@att.net
Isabelle Lawrence (Izzy)
Therapeutic Riding Instructor
Bio Coming Soon!
Our professionals are pioneers in the field of animal-assisted therapies. Team members participate in a wide variety of educational opportunities in order to best serve our clients' needs.
Photo Coming Soon!
Brittany Briswalter Kuqi, M.S., LPC-Associate, CRC
P.A.T.H. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor
Under the Supervision of Hallie Sheade, PhD, LPC-S, RPT-S
Brittany completed two semesters of internship in her graduate program, receiving supervision from animal assisted therapy pioneer Dr. Cynthia Chandler. She has worked as a therapeutic riding instructor for clients with various mental, physical, and intellectual disabilities for the past three years. Brittany graduated with her Master's in Rehabilitation Counseling at University of North Texas. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a LPC-Associate. Her passion is incorporating animals into therapies to provide a therapeutic environment and relationship for clients. She believes animals incorporate a unique partnership that aids clients in initiating their own abilities to heal. She has worked with children, adolescents, and adults in different capaticites. She has training in Vocational Counseling, Trauma Informed Care, Play Therapy, Equine Assisted Counseling and Animal Assisted Counseling.
Contact Brittany: PawsForReflection@att.net
Megan Pierce, M.S., LPC-S, NCC
Megan is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor and a National Certified Counselor. She earned her Master of Science in Guidance and Counseling from Texas Woman’s University. She is a member of the Texas Counseling Association and is working towards becoming a Registered Play Therapist. Megan has over a decade of experience in childhood education as well as private and school counseling. She has animal assisted therapy experience (her personal dog) and understands the soothing power of loving animal interacting with children and adolescents.
She is passionate about providing a safe and accepting environment which honors the unique developmental level of each individual child. Through the language of play Megan looks for ways of helping in the “language” of the child. She believes that by utilizing play therapy, the child will be better able to express themselves in what pleases and bothers them. Through this expression the child can resolve their problems while building emotional resiliency and individual strengths.
Contact Megan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mikah Dolphin, M.A., LPC-S, Director of Counseling Services
Mikah was divinely drawn to Paws For Reflection Ranch where her passion for caring for animals, teams, and clients is fostered in this environment that provides connection to peace, healing, and growth. Mikah grew up on a farm and from a young age understood the positive impact that animals have on our lives. As a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor, Mikah desires to join with her clients (children through adults) and this special environment to create a therapeutic relationship that promotes thriving in daily life, a path to wellness, and a deeper connection to Christ through each person’s unique identity (if desired by the client). Mikah’s professional journey encompasses a variety of settings, including foster care, private practice, residential care, and hospital-based programs; outpatient, intensive outpatient (IOP), and partial hospitalization (PHP). Mikah’s leadership experience includes clinical supervision, business and clinical operations, grant oversite, and project management, all of which are focused on diversity and inclusion, promoting team strengths, fostering professional development, and a mission-driven culture. Mikah welcomes the opportunity to give you a tour so that you too can experience this beautiful God given gift that we lovingly refer to as Paws.
Becky Tinney, M.S., LMSW, CPS
Under the Supervision of Amy Carr, LCSW-S
Becky is a Licensed Master’s Level Social worker, currently under clinical supervision of Amy Carr, LCSW-S, and has been working professionally with children and families since 2016. She obtained her master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis on Mental Health and Substance Abuse from The University of Texas Arlington. Becky is also a certified prevention specialist and certified in the practice of mindfulness. She focuses on providing trauma-informed therapy with children and adolescents, ages 3 to 16, utilizing Child Centered Play Therapy, Animal Assisted Therapy, and Mindfulness practices. She also has experience in family and reunification therapy. Becky believes that everyone has the power within them to heal if given the necessary support and tools. With that in mind, she puts great emphasis on building trust and rapport with each client so that she can design individualized treatment approaches to meet their specific needs, no matter where they are in their journey.
Contact Becky: PawsForReflection@att.net
Stephanie Kimmel, originally from the Midwest, serves as an Equine Specialist in the Ranch Counseling Programs. With a background of hospitality, startups and finance, she decided to pursue her lifelong passion of working with animals full time. Stephanie is a horse trainer specializing in gentling using positive reinforcement. Last year, Stephanie started a small business called Enrichments offering services like grooming and exercising to provide physical and mental stimulation for boarded horses. She was drawn to Paws for Reflection Ranch where we practice positive reinforcement training, allowing the horse to have a choice thereby reducing stress, building trust and strengthening the bond between horses and humans. Stephanie also likes to teach others about horses which makes her a valuable addition to Ranch Educational Programs. Her experience with horses, mules and zebras has given her a unique insight of equine behavior and how we can benefit from the healing power of animals.
PHOTO COMING SOON!
Lindsey Steger, M.S., LPC Associate (83818)
Under the supervision of Robert Mapes, LPC-S
Lindsey obtained her Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology from Southwestern Assemblies of God University. She is a member of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. Lindsey is certified in Prepare-Enrich Premarital Counseling and she enjoys counseling couples and families from all different backgrounds and cultures. She has also worked as an ABA Therapist for the past 2 ½ years and has experience working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) between the ages of 2 and 10 years old. In addition, Lindsey has experience working with clients who struggle with anxiety, depression, anger management issues, ADD, self-management and self-care difficulties, self-harm and suicidal ideation, addiction, and difficulty in adjusting to lifestyle changes. Lindsey has spent time with students in counseling and has seen those from ages 12 to 27 more frequently. She desires to become knowledgeable about all mental health issues within all stages of life and is passionate about encouraging all individuals to find personal healing.
Contact Lindsey: PawsForReflection@att.net
Office Manager/Event Coordinator
Bio coming soon!
Equine Specialist & Riding Instructor
Joe Bellus joined the Ranch team in 2019 after having volunteered at the annual Ranch Riders Horse Show. Having spent his childhood and adolescence between his family’s farm in Iowa and the inner city areas of Dallas, he had always sought to return to country life permanently and found that opportunity at the Ranch. Though he had previously trained service dogs and has years of experience coaching children in gymnastics and cheer leading, the strong connections between horses and humans in a therapeutic environment touched him beyond words. He immediately began volunteering on a regular basis and within a few months had quit his day job and become an official part of the team.
In his earlier years Joe spent time working with youth at the Eldora School for Boys State Juvenile facility in a big brother program where he assisted in drug and alcohol abuse support groups. Later he became involved with Vets for Vets, a 501c charity out of central Iowa that pairs recently discharged veterans with prior service members from previous decades in an effort to reinforce brotherhood and community through outdoorsman activities. In the most recent past he has hosted multiple charity events benefiting various veteran support and suicide awareness organizations. Currently, Joe fulfills the roles of equine specialist, as well as, riding instructor in training and serves as an occasional ranch hand.
Nicole Litterio, M.Ed.
Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator
Nicole Litterio received a Master in Education at DePaul University and holds an Illinois Professional Educator License Endorsed in School Counseling. She moved to the DFW area in spring 2016 after working as a Case Manager for 9.5 years in the south side of Chicago. She began volunteering at Paws for Reflection Ranch in the fall of 2016 and became the Volunteer Coordinator in 2017. Her passion is to empower individuals to better understand their skills and talents to live more fulfilling lives. Nicole hopes volunteering will help people to learn about themselves and their life purpose in the greater community.
As the Outreach Coordinator, Nicole educates the greater community about the services offered at the Ranch and how others can take part in Ranch activities and services.
When not working or volunteering, Nicole enjoys spending time in nature with her dog and gardening.
Contact Nicole: Litterio.email@example.com
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Paws for Reflection Ranch is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) charitable organization
USDA Licensed Class C Exhibitor under the Animal Welfare Act