Heather Girvin, Ph.D, MSS
Equine Therapist & Educator
"After working for a number of years as a clinical social worker, I returned to graduate school and earned my PhD in social work. I have been teaching in college and university settings for over 20 years, while continuing to conduct research related to trauma and alternative approaches to fostering development, enhancing well-being, and healing. Equine-assisted activities and services are promising alternative practices that meet the needs of individuals who may be less comfortable with traditional therapies and/or are interested in trying something new."
Heather Girvin, an associate professor at Millersville University, earned her Bachelor of Sciences in Sociology from Dickinson College and a Master’s Degree in Social Service and doctorate in social work from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work & Social Research. Dr. Girvin’s practice experience centers on children and families, primarily in child protective services and foster care. She has worked in residential programs and public child welfare agencies; provided in-home services; and worked as an out-patient therapist. Dr. Girvin’s research has centered on families and children, with overarching interests in trauma, social justice, and social change. Her interest in trauma experienced by families continues, with increased interest in methods of “helping” and the use of the expressive arts strategies and equine therapy to address trauma and activate social change processes. Partnering with Aileen Stevens and HERD OF HOPE HORSE RESCUE, Dr. Girvin is dedicated to the development and implementation of active and innovative learning using the natural horsemanship model.
"I combine knowledge from advanced academics, mental health professional experience, social work clinical practice, decades of experience with horses, and equine trainings to provide supportive, developmental, and therapeutic equine-assisted services to our community. I develop and engage clients in programs that enhance human and animal well-being by teaching both groups to build relationships based on compassion and respect."
PhD 2002, Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work & Social Research, Bryn Mawr, PA
Dissertation: Readiness for Change in a Child Welfare Context
MSS 1995, Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work & Social Research, Bryn Mawr, PA
Clinical Social Work 1992, Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA, Sociology
Natural Lifemanship, Fundamental Certification (2017)
Natural Lifemanship, Intensive Certification (2019)
Natural Horsemanship Mental Health Clinic (2019)
Parelli Equine Mental Health and Learning Specialist (2020)