Anyone who knew me as an adolescent would be shocked to hear that I grew up to be a therapist who specializes in working with difficult teens. And yet, it makes perfect sense. They say, “It takes one to know one.”
My father was a career diplomat who specialized in the Middle East. By the time I was ten years old, we’d lived in five different countries. Moving and having to start over left me wary of making friends and fiercely independent. As I entered my adolescent years, independence turned to insolence and I was brazen in my ways of challenging authority. I hid behind a pretty tough façade, and only a few adults could see through my disguise. Those few adults inspired me to become an adult that could really understand teenagers. During those years, there were only two places that I never felt the need for the façade … one was with horses and the other was at my outdoor summer camp. At the barn or at the camp, I could be myself. And I know this is why, to this day, I feel most alive and most open-hearted when I am outdoors or with horses.
The ideas I present in Wild at Heart: Adolescence, Horses & Other Kindred Spirits stem from my own adolescence and from the past two decades of working with teens in educational, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and recreational settings. Along the way, I also gained the education and credentials that would allow me to be taken seriously. But, in truth, almost everything I know about working with teens I learned from either a teenager or a horse.
(You can learn more about Heather at kcclinicalsolutions.com.)