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Our Team

Meet our Office and Programme Delivery Team:

Barbara Michell

Office Manager

Barbara is responsible for the day to day running of the LEAP office, joining the team in 2020 she has previously worked with Sarah at Life on Dreams for a number of years before leaving in 2018 to take a full time role. Through her work at Life on Dreams, Barbara was able to get a sense of the work we do and became involved with some of the LEAP training by providing care for the LEAP Herd in Derbyshire.

Barbara brings a depth of office management experience and successfully ran her own business for many years. A keen horsewoman she has been involved with the horsemanship side of LEAP for many years, training with Steve Halfpenny and Kelly Marks. Which led her to work with her own horses and help others who were having difficulties.

Barbara is usually the first person our potential trainees, clients and practitioners get to speak to when they contact the office. She is invaluable to keeping things running along nicely from catering, to sending out information, to managing the wider teams diaries and keeping on top of Sarah & Jo!

Jo-Anne Karlsson MSc MBPsP, NBCC, LCDC, PG Cert, LEAP

Director and Senior EFP/L Practitioner

Jo-Anne Karlsson is the Owner and Director of LEAP and is a key member of the Senior Therapeutic Team.  Jo-Anne is a Systemic and Solution Focused Family Therapist and Addiction Counselor gaining her qualification in the United States of America; as well as a Clinical Supervisor having qualified from Derby University.  Jo-Anne began her career at the Child Institute of Mental Health in London researching the Autism Spectrum but then went on to be a mother of three step-children and having two of her own, before returning to studying Family Therapy.  Jo-Anne is also a National Certified Counselor in the State of Illinois and an experienced EFL/P practitioner since 2012 having practiced in the USA, Singapore and the UK in residential, community and private environments.

Jo-Anne was among the first graduates of the LEAP EFP/L Practitioner Training Programme and now runs her own successful private practice in and around Berkshire. Having a mixed herd of ex-polo and rescue ponies, Jo-Anne allows the herd to have a choice of who and how they work with individuals, with the majority of clients being young people aged between 8 and 24 years of age.  Jo-Anne has a postgraduate qualification in clinical supervision and is interested in studying a Ph.D. in Psychotherapy and Philosophy, specialising in Trauma issues and adolescence.

Sarah Watson BSc (Hons), MBA, MSc, PG Cert, SMACCPH, MBACP, LEAP

Programme Director and Senior EFP/L Practitioner

Sarah worked for many years in blue chip organisations providing change programmes and coaching for management teams. She was in a world-class procurement change team for Rolls Royce PLC and was involved in delivering business plan development and strategic sourcing globally. She has negotiated multi-million-pound global contracts within a complex multi-vendor environment, understanding this complexity allows her to work with a variety of national and global organisations providing leadership development. She uses her own equine therapy centre at Life on Dreams to offer unique leadership development, change management and business strategy development in a truly immersive and unique experience.

Sarah has also ran a successful procurement consultancy and worked for a number of global organisations including Vodafone, Rolls Royce PLC, E-on, Northcliffe Media, Associated News including the Daily Mail. Her work at Vodafone saw her shortlisted for a Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Chain (CiPS) award. During this time, she was able to train with some world-class horsemen and subsequently went on to train in Horse Accelerated Transformation (HAT) with HorseJoy, which set her up to integrate strategic skills with a horse-focused leadership development programme.

While completing her MSc in Integrative Psychotherapy, Sarah studied with LEAP as an Equine Facilitated Psychotherapist (EFP) and after graduating with a distinction, she went on to launch Life on Dreams Limited.

Life on Dreams is a fulfilment of her dream, to create a specialist centre offering well-being services in South Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Working with corporate leaders including CIOs and Company Directors, adults and young people struggling with anxiety, stress, depression, PTSD, addiction and trauma, Sarah has cumulated thousands of clinical practice hours.

In 2016, Sarah joined the LEAP senior training team where she is able to bring her experience as a coach and psychotherapist into the experiential training offered by LEAP for those wishing to become EFP and EFL Practitioners.  She is responsible for co-running the EFL training programme, the Level 5 Diploma in Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy: the LEAP Method and supervising trainees and LEAP Practitioners.  She co-created the Addiction CPD course with Mike Delaney and is passionate about developing new course and material for LEAP.

In 2016, Sarah joined the LEAP senior training team where she is able to bring her experience as a coach and psychotherapist into the experiential training offered by LEAP for those wishing to become EFP and EFL Practitioners.  She is responsible for co-running the EFL training programme, the Level 5 Diploma in Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy: the LEAP Method and supervising trainees and LEAP Practitioners.  She co-created the Addiction CPD course with Mike Delaney and is passionate about developing new course and material for LEAP.

Lisa Bruin

International Horsemanship Trainer and Instructor

Lisa has spent her life working with horses; she has travelled worldwide working and training with some of the world’s top horsemen. She has trained and spent time with Ray HuntLeslie DesmondPhil RodeyPhilip Nye and Steve Halfpenny.

Lisa teaches our Horsemanship courses and offers a relational way to work with our horses. The emphasis of her teaching is to create an understanding between horse and practitioner, developing trust and confidence right from the start. Alongside teaching with LEAP, Lisa helps people with difficult horses and youngsters and teaches clinics across the UK and Europe. She has competed internationally in Cowboy Dressage and was in the GB Working Equitation Team in 2018 with her little quarter horse Skeeter.

Lisa’s passion for horses is evident in all her work and our trainees have all learned a lot from her teaching, learning about relationship, leadership, feel, timing, equine body language and much more.

Victoria Beecher FDAP ICADC ADC NCAC LEAP

Senior EFP/L Practitioner

Victoria graduated from the US based Counselor Training Programme at the Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota – the world renowned rehabilitation centre – in 1993. Since that time she has continually availed herself of specialist training in the full spectrum of addictive processes – including eating disorders, gambling, self harm and many others.

She has also trained with Pia Mellody at The Meadows in  Arizona in trauma and shame reduction and at the Hazelden Center for Youth & Family to gain additional expertise in adolescent & family work and the field of prevention.

In April 2000 Victoria and her family moved to Barbados where she and her husband Norman, also a counsellor, designed and managed a residential treatment facility that surpassed all expectations and endowed Barbados and the greater Caribbean with a centre of clinical excellence.

Victoria graduated with LEAP in 2016 and joined the training team in 2019. She runs EFP programmes from Addiction treatment centres in the south east as well as having a busy private practice in Kensington London.

Heidi Dawson MNCH (Acc.) MAC

Senior EFL Practitioner

Heidi enjoyed a successful 20-year-long corporate career, holding senior roles in organisations including RHM Group, Greggs PLC and Edmund Nuttall Ltd and also acting as Consultant to a number of organisations, including the Environment Agency.  But, she always felt there was something missing!  So, during this time she also trained and practised as a professional coach and hypnotherapist.  She finally took the plunge, leaving behind her ‘safe’ Corporate role to focus on her coaching and therapy practice in 2006.

A number of opportunities arose from this move, most notably being invited to deliver internationally accredited professional coach training programmes in London, Edinburgh and Brussels.

In 2010, Heidi established Success Unbridled and introduced equine facilitated learning into her work, focusing primarily on delivering leadership and team development programmes. 

However, she was asked to do a piece of work with a local secondary school and this opened her eyes to the possibilities that can unfold when young people are given the chance to work through their challenges using experiential learning methods.  This broadening of Heidi’s offering led to the formation in 2013 of Glint, a not-for-profit, social enterprise.  Heidi is Glint’s CEO and Lead Facilitator. 

Heidi has first-hand experience of the benefits of time spent with horses and ponies, having experienced bullying as a young girl and finding solace in their company.  30 years later, she had cause to reflect upon the strength they gave her; the courage to stand up for herself; the wisdom to see that it’s actually ok to be different to everybody else.  Now, she takes those experiences and puts them to good use in the Horse Assisted Development programmes she develops and delivers with Glint.  Whether it’s leadership and team development, or supporting young and vulnerable people in improving their life chances, Heidi believes that interaction with horses and ponies can and does create real and lasting learning on many different levels.