Cassandra Porter, M.S.
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.
Elissa Jeter, M.A., LPC, NCC
Elissa M. Jeter, M.A., LPC received her Master of Art in Counseling from the University of Rochester in New York. As a member of the Army National Guard, Elissa has provided Behavioral Health Counseling both as a civilian and a Soldier to Veterans, active military, and their families. She has experience in Chemical Dependency, Crisis Counseling, Adolescent Counseling, Sexual Trauma Counseling, PTSD Counnseling, and Interpersonal Counseling. Her passion lies with working with Veterans as they transition to civilian life and reach their full potential. Elissa believes in a holistic approach to Counseling, focusing on every aspect of one's life including Spiritual, Emotional, Behavioral, Cognitive, Social, Financial, and others. Elissa is a member of the American Counseling Association and the American Mental Health Association.
Contact Elissa: EJeter.email@example.com
Director of Educational Programs
Tannis Lambert has a passion for sharing experiences with animals and nature within a fun and safe learning environment. She has home schooled for 18 years and has been part of many groups along the way. Somehow she always finds herself involved with kid's programs; AWANA, Bible Studies, Mom's Day Out, Parent's Night, Jr. High Leader, Boy Scouts, 4-H, Co-op Nursery, etc. Recently at Paws for Reflection Ranch Tannis is using the skills she has gathered over time to lead the Paws for Fun after school program, Paws for Fun Summer Camp, special needs class field trips, and therapy animal visits to assisted living homes. She is very excited about the Ranch educational programs and excited to grow even more programs.
Contact Tannis: TLambert.PawsRanch@att.net
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.
Amy Carr, M.S., LCSW-S
Amy has been fully licensed as a Clinical Social Worker in the state of Texas since 2014, and obtained her Board Approved Supervisor status in 2016. Amy has also been a Registered Yoga Teacher since 2015. Amy completed her Graduate studies in Clinical Social Work at the University of Texas in Austin, and has been working professionally with children and families since in 2008. She specializes in trauma focused work with ages 2-16, specifically utilizing Child Centered Play Therapy and Animal Assisted Play Therapy. Amy also offers Equine Assisted Counseling, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), as well as Yoga Therapy techniques in her work with children and adolescents. She caters treatment to the needs of the child client, and always strives to meet families where they are in their own healing process.
Contact Amy: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
Katelyn Crawford, M.S., LPC Associate,
P.A.T.H. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor & Equine Specialist
Under the Supervision of Chris Covington, LPC-S
Even though Katelyn's parents thought that her love for horses was a "typical phase", she has always had a desire to incorporate horses into her life. In 2013, Katelyn graduated from the University of North Texas with her Bachelor's degree that focused on Child and Family Development. In her last year at North Texas, she participated in a school related study, at a nearby therapeutic riding center. This was where Katelyn discovered her true passion. After shadowing and working various positions at the riding center, she decided to move to West, Texas, to begin training to be a therapeutic riding instructor. In the spring of 2015, Katelyn officially became a PATH Intl. Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor.
The following summer, Katelyn had the privilege of working alongside an Equine Assisted Counselor as a Horse Specialist. This special work experience led her to pursue the path to become a Licensed Professional Counselor to one day help others through Equine Assisted Counseling. Katelyn graduated with her Masters Degree in Counseling at Tarleton State University and added Licensed Professional Counseling Intern to her resume at Paws for Reflection Ranch.
In the fall of 2015, Katelyn invested in her first horse, a Palomino Quarter Horse, named Ranger. Katelyn and Roger have both recently moved back to the DFW area and joined the Ranch team. They are both grateful and excited about their future in Equine Assisted Therapies at the Ranch.
Contact Katelyn: Crawford.firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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
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.
P.A.T.H. Certified Therapeutic Riding and Equine Specialist
Liana White's passion and dedication for horses is rooted in her childhood in Germany. Life moved her to the United States where she obtained her Associates of Science in Agricultural Sales and Services with Equine Training from Dickinson State University, ND and later on, the Bachelor of Arts with concentration in Therapeutic Horsemanship at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, NC. In North Carolina, Liana worked under the legendary Reining Horse Trainer Francois Gauthier, where she specialized developing young horses into Reining Show Horses. In Texas, she furthered her skill in training young horses for cutting and cow work, working for Manion Ranch under Cutting Futurity Winner Phil Hanson. Liana gained knowledge about cattle and herd management. One of the mile stones in her career was the coaching at the NRHA Futurity Para Reining Riders. Liana's position as a Therapeutic Riding Instructor at Paws for Reflection Ranch combines her passion to teach special populations the fundamentals of horsemanship, as well as, maintaining the level of training of the lesson horses.
Contact Liana: LWhite.email@example.com
Administrative Support & Event Coordinator
Bio coming soon!
Danielle Earp, M.S., LPC Associate, NCC
Under the supervision of Christina McDonald, LPC-S
Danielle completed many of her internship hours at Paws in the spring of 2020 and now joins the team as a graduate of Bellevue University. Danielle also holds a M.S. in integrated marketing communications from Florida State University. She has a great deal of experience working with clients of all ages, particularly those in crisis, suffering from suicidal ideations, and/or working through trauma. Danielle is passionate about meeting each client where they are and empowering everyone with the use of self-compassion and positive psychology. She is eager to assist clients in revealing and healing hidden, destructive patterns in order to create a walkable path to mental wellness. She utilizes her knowledge of nutrition, somatic therapies, and the complexity of the mind-body connection to address and treat issues from a holistic perspective. Danielle is a National Certified Counselor and member of the American Counseling Association and Society for Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Identities.
Contact Danielle: firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtney Utter, M.Ed., LPC Associate & P.A.T.H. Certified Equine Specialist
Under the supervision of Christina McDonald, LPC-S
Courtney obtained her Masters of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Texas Christian University (go frogs!). Courtney is a PATH Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning and is a Licensed Professional Counselor- Intern. She is under the supervision of Christina McDonald, LPC-S. She has a background conducting Animal Therapies and completed her one year Counseling Internship here at Paws For Reflection Ranch while in school. She has been working with horses for over 20 years and has an English Hunter Jumper background. She takes a holistic approach to counseling and has a true passion for people, horses, healing and helping.
Contact Courtney: PawsForReflection@att.net
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
Paws for Reflection Ranch is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) charitable organization
USDA Licensed Class C Exhibitor under the Animal Welfare Act
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