With a passion for horses and a desire to help people, equine assisted activities are the perfect fit for Katie. She has been blessed to have horses be an important part of her life and she understands their amazing ability to offer non-judgmental partnership. Whether you are looking to escape the chaos of everyday life, need to get something off your chest or just need an embrace, the horses are always there for you. The serenity of the farm when coupled with the balance created by the horses is close to Heaven in Katie's eyes!

Katie studied early childhood, special education as well as deaf communication in college. She was introduced to Eagala (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) in 2009 and is now Advanced Eagala certified and a mentor for Eagala. Katie is a certified leadership Coach through the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), which is an International Coach Federation (ICF) accredited school. She is a master practitioner for the Energy Leadership Index, which is an assessment that enable you to understand your perceptions, attitudes, behaviors and leadership capabilities.

Eagala is an international non-profit established in 1999. It has set the standards for professional excellence, in how horses and humans work together, to improve the quality of life and mental health of individuals, families and groups worldwide. Watch a Vimeo on Eagala. 

The Eagala Model is a distinctive, experiential framework, designed to allow clients the latitude to discover, learn and grow from the horse-human relationship. WE abide by Eagala's Standards:

1.) Activities are Ground Based
No Riding OR Horse Experience Needed. This is the safest and most respectful approach to working with horses; they are able to make their own choices just like our clients.

2.) Team Approach
Horses, a Licensed Mental Health Professionals & an Equine Specialist are in EVERY session

3.) Solution-Oriented
Sessions are future-focused, goal directed & seek solutions rather than focusing on problems. Watch a Vimeo on Solution Oriented Sessions

4.) Adhere to a Stick Code of Ethics

Clients are the experts in their life and have the answers. WE offer a safe place for a client's story to emerge. The tranquility of the farm and hands-on approach allow a client to take a deep restorative breath of fresh air and find both peace and inner resilience.

Willow Equine practices the Eagala model for all our sessions.

Katie Stankiewicz, CPC

Phone: 704.237.0644


Horses have been a part of Mary's life since the age of six. Growing up, she enjoyed dressage and combined training. In college, she taught English riding at summer camps in western North Carolina and middle Tennessee. At age 22, Mary sold her Morgan horse to study at Duke Divinity School and pursue ordination in the United Methodist Church.

In 2004, Mary completed a Doctorate of Ministry in Pastoral Psychotherapy. She is a North Carolina Certified Pastoral Counselor. Her work includes psychodynamic therapy with individuals, couples, families and groups. Mary has a private practice in Huntersville and accepts private pay, BCBS-NC and AHO. She is an adjunct faculty member of Davidson Centre of the Professions (davcp.org). She holds degrees from Centre College, Duke Divinity School and Graduate Theological Foundation. Mary is also certified in Adult, Child, and Infant CPR/AED.

Mary found the Eagala model to be a perfect integration of blending her love for both horses and the art of psychotherapy. Keeping her boots in her car for any horse or barn related opportunity; Mary enjoys staying active with her husband, two daughters and two dogs!


Phone: 704.560.0525

Mary Kinken, D.Min


Maria has always had a passion for helping children, teens, individuals, couples and families cope with difficulties in their lives. Her desire to help clients experience healing and life change through faith-centered therapy.

Maria is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a MA in Christian Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She has attended the Advanced Eagala training as well.

Maria has experience in working with a wide range of struggles to include depression, anxiety, stress, communication, martial affairs, divorce, childhood trauma and teen issues. Maria is Level II Certified through Eagala, EMDR trained, DBT trained and Prepare/Enrich Certified Facilitator.  Maria is a partner in Living Well Counseling Associates (LWCA), and her office is in Kannapolis, NC. She accepts private pay and BCBS-NC.


Phone: 828.387.5735

Maria Russell, LPC


Samantha has over 10 years of counseling practice experience in school and alternative settings. She received her BA in Psychology from University of Southern Maine and earned her MA in School Counseling from Gardner-Webb University. Samantha was a mental health professional in a crisis stabilization unit and a mobile outreach program before moving to North Carolina to work as a line-in wilderness counselor for an alternative adventure based at-risk youth program. More recently she was employed as a counselor and program coordinator with the Iredell-Statesville schools.

Samantha has received intensive training in clinical trauma, Gestalt Therapy and Reality Therapy / Choice Theory. She also incorporates play therapy, motivational interviewing, functional behavior assessments / Positive Behavior. Sam recently received her military counselor certification. This variety of modalities and technique is used on your journey in designing and achieving your personal holistic wellness.

She is Eagala certified and is currently pursuing the certified clinical trauma professional credential. Samantha is a partner with Counseling and Support Associates, (CASA) which has office locations in Cornelius and Statesville, NC.


Samantha King, LPC


Animal assisted therapy has been a passion of Julia�€™s since getting her MA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has lived in Tennessee, Louisiana, California, Virginia, and plans on staying in North Carolina after finding her true passion. Julia has been working professionally with horses for since 2014. She enjoys working with animals to help people understand and cope with their trauma or situations, because she has seen what it has done not only for others, but herself. Sharing this type of experience of healing with others are not only considered exciting to Julia, but an honor. She enjoys educating people on Eagala and animal assisted therapy.

Julia works with adolescents, young adults and adult clients with a range of mental health and other life problems. She has background in working with severe and persistent mental illnesses, domestic violence, relationships and more. Julia is a true believer of the Eagala model and incorporates her Gestalt and other therapeutic ideologies into her sessions. A big philosophy Julia has in counseling is incorporating what people enjoy into session. If you are an avid animal lover like Julia, then this is a therapy for you! She is part of Davidson Family Therapy and her office is in Davidson, NC. Read her Blog


Phone: 704.641.3739

Phone: 704.912.4095

Julia Rose, LPCA