About Heather Kirby

I am a therapist with over 25 years of experience working with adolescents and young adults in a variety of settings and with a variety of goals. I assist clients with a wide range of challenges including anxiety, depression, anger, substance abuse, social skill deficits and learning disabilities. My approach is direct, compassionate and creative and I use alternative strategies, like equine therapy, to connect with clients and help them discover their best self.

I am the author of “Wild at Heart: Adolescents, Horses & Other Kindred Spirits” which draws on my professional experience with adolescents and a lifetime love of horses. I outline the striking similarities between horses and teens and how we can work more effectively with teens by applying principles effective with horses.

As a public speaker, I enjoy presenting to audiences of all sizes on a variety of topics generally related to adolescents, mental health, addictive behaviors and LGBTQ issues. I pride myself on tailoring my presentation to the specific needs of my audience and engaging them to create a fun and thought-provoking experience.

My background

After earning my undergraduate degree in Psychology from the College of William and Mary in 1989, I worked with adolescents for ten years in a variety of settings including Residential Treatment, Psychiatric Hospital, Day Treatment, Intensive Out-Patient and Private Day School before returning to school at the University of Maryland, Baltimore where I earned my Master’s degree in Social Work in 1999.

  • From 1999 to 2005, I worked with ED/LD (Emotionally Disabled and Learning Disabled) adolescents at The Dominion School in Springfield, VA.
  • From 2005 to 2010, I served as the Assistant Director and Dean of Students at Accotink Alternative Learning Center in Springfield, VA.
  • In 2011, I was recruited to develop an equine therapy program for Childhelp, a residential treatment center in Lignum, VA.
  • Since 2012, I have devoted my time to my private therapy practice in Fairfax, VA. I offer equine therapy in partnership with Project Horse, Inc. in Purcelleville, VA and North Light Coaching in Aldie, VA.

My true professional passion and gift is in connecting with teens, young adults and families through non-traditional therapy. I use recreation, animals, art, music, sand tray and the vast outdoors to help people relax and feel safe in the therapeutic relationship.