KIM SULLIVAN, MA, LPC-S, RPT, NCC
Kim and her family are long-time residents of Central Texas. She earned her BS in Secondary Science Education from The University of Texas in Austin in 1986, later expanding her certifications to include Elementary Education, Special Education, and Art Education. After teaching elementary and secondary science, she returned to school herself and graduated from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, in May 2015, with her MA in Professional Counseling.
At TSU, Kim received master's-level training in Child-Parent Relationship Therapy, play therapy, and expressive arts therapy. Her post-graduate training includes advanced training counseling with animal partners through Texas State University's Animal Assisted Counseling Academy and trauma-informed Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy through Natural Lifemanship. Kim's counseling experiences include working with behavioral and emotionally challenged adolescents at a residential psychiatric facility, play therapy with children on the Autism spectrum, adapting and leading a play-based parent education group for new
and expectant mothers, and leading adult counseling
groups at a local behavioral health hospital.
Kim is certified as a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor (RPT-S), National Certified Counselor, and as an Animal-Assisted Counselor. She is currently engaged in Natural Lifemanship's certification process as both a Mental Health Professional and Equine Professional. In addition to working with clients and families through her private practice, Kim also serves as a trainer with the Animal-Assisted Counseling Academy and hopes to share her canine and equine knowledge with other animal-assisted therapists..
Read more about Kim here as featured in an article by Voyage Austin.
Education and inspiration of other mental health professionals are important to Kim. She provides consultation and supervision services to a few mental health professionals at a time, combining her experience and skills in AAC, Expressive Arts, and Sand Tray to encourage their growth. When time permits, Kim (sometimes joined by one of her animal partners) enjoys public speaking opportunities on subjects such as AAC and Play Therapy.
PET PRACTITIONER TEAM
AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG MIX
Born in October 2012, Gordon had a rough start in life. Someone wrapped something tight around his snout and he fractured his front legs. The scars behind his nose are all that remains from those injuries, however. Gordon has lived with Kim's family since January 24, 2013, which we celebrate as his Gotcha Day.
Gordon and Kim attended the Animal-Assisted Counseling Academy in 2017, passed their Pet Partners Team Evaluation in 2017, and also passed their Animal-Assisted Counseling Certification Evaluation in 2018. Gordon joins in both indoor and outdoor counseling sessions.
Cattle dogs love to work. and Gordon seems to take his work seriously - even when playing. His strengths are joining in with children during play therapy and helping adolescents and adults gain confidence to confront their own painful pasts.
Our newest recruit, Barney has lived with Kim and her family for all of his life. His mother was a rescue, found along with a group of other beagles all in very poor health. Barney and his brother Sammy were born on February 19, 2020 - right before the COVID lockdown.
Being a "pandemic puppy" presented a number of socialization and training challenges. Barney was very nervous when he first started leaving the house and meeting people. However, his doggie manners classes have helped him to learn that meeting new human friends is a fun thing to do.
Barney earned his AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate in February 2023 and went on to pass his AAC Academy Certified Counseling Dog evaluation in April 2023. He is now filling in for Gordon on some sessions.
Rocky stands about 38 inches at his withers, qualifying him as a "Class B Miniature Horse." He was bought at an auction by his previous owner, so very little is known about his background. When he did not work out for his previous owner, Kim bought him.
When he first arrived, Rocky was fearful of people and a bully to all of the larger horses in the pasture. Through much hard work and patience, Rocky learned to trust again. He and Lewis are barn buddies and enjoy each others' company.
Rocky has worked as a volunteer therapy horse with Kim since 2009 and they passed their Pet Partners evaluation together in 2013. He seems to enjoy interacting with all ages, but has especially shines when working with special needs individuals.
Rocky helps in community outreach as well as joining in some group and supervision sessions.
At only 34 inches in height, Lewis is a little donkey with a huge heart. He came to live with Kim's family in 2007 when he was about 7 years old. He and Kim have volunteered together since 2008 with several local therapy-equine groups.
Lewis and Kim passed their Pet Partners evaluations in 2015 and 2017. Lewis has become a bit of a local personality and has appeared in two television news reports as well as having been featured in his own children's book. Like Rocky, he continues to periodically volunteer in the Round Rock and Williamson county communities as an ambassador helping at festivals, church celebrations, and other special local events. Lewis also joins in group and individual counseling sessions.
True to his donkey-nature, Lewis is intelligent and curious. He is also generally calm and gentle, which helps him to connect well with those who are feeling anxious or sad.
New Recruits in Training
Born February 19, 2020, Sammy and his brother Barney were born in the Sullivan household right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Encouraged by his brother's success, Sammy is now working towards a goal of taking and passing the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. If he continues to grow in confidence and learns to enjoy meeting new people like his brother Barney, perhaps Sammy will go on to become a counseling dog, too!
Brought to the Sullivan household in January 2021, Fable had spent her last 3 years at an equine rescue without ever forming a close connection with any of the other donkeys. We know nothing of her prior life other than she had been rescued from an auction.
Like humans, donkeys can also be severely affected by trauma. Many of her behaviors - withdrawing from her herd, heightened startle responses, and "shutting down" (dissociating) in times of stress - are similar to those experienced by human survivors of trauma. And like humans, she is finding healing through the support of healthy relationships and connection. As she learns to trust again, Fable's gentle heart is shining through. Fable takes part in Equine-Assisted Counseling Supervision sessions.
MINIATURE/STANDARD DONKEY MIX
Little did we know that Fable was carrying a bonus package onboard when we adopted her...that is until she surprised us with this baby boy on August 19, 2021!
Sonny has had the benefit of growing up in a secure, connected relationship with his herd as well as with the humans around him. Kim has been especially pleased to be able to apply the principles of Natural Lifemanship with him from his very first day in the world. Like his mother, Sonny takes part in Equine=Assisted Counseling Supervision sessions. We are looking forward to seeing him do great work with clients after he grows and matures!