Understanding NL Therapist and Therapy Team Qualifications

Understanding NL Therapist and Therapy Team Qualifications


Looking for the right therapist can be daunting, we know! 

When looking for help for yourself or for a loved one, here are some things to consider.

At Natural Lifemanship, a “clinician” is ALWAYS licensed to practice mental health. 

“Clinician” is our inclusive term for any licensed mental health professional, including counselors, social workers, psychotherapists, and psychologists. Licensure is always granted by states. In addition, clinicians may be certified by the national boards that govern their profession. Our trainings provide continuing education hours recognized by the following national certifying organizations: National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals.

Becoming licensed as a mental health professional is a rigorous process; it means one must:

  • Earn a degree in the field
  • Complete extensive hours of clinical internship with supervision
  • Pass the state licensure exam
  • Complete background checks
  • Agree to and abide by state standards of professional ethics, continuing education, and periodic renewal of qualifications

Natural Lifemanship Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (TF-EAP) may only be conducted by a licensed mental health professional, and will often include an equine professional as a co-facilitator.


“Practitioners” are those who are qualified to help people in capacities other than licensed mental health work. 

Practitioners may be life coaches, spiritual directors, instructors, bodywork and other kinds of (non-mental health) therapists, among others. Practitioners are expected to abide by the regulations that govern their particular field.

“Equine Professionals” (EPs) are people who have the experience needed to effectively and safely co-facilitate equine-assisted work with a qualified clinician or practitioner.

In some cases, a clinician or practitioner is also qualified to be an EP. We call these individuals “dually” qualified.

Natural Lifemanship Qualifications
Natural Lifemanship trains and certifies* clinicians, practitioners and EPs to use our model.


*Competence in Natural Lifemanship requires practice and mentorship. Our certification program is designed to provide the needed training and lots of practice and mentorship in the NL model. Certification means that one has completed the process (the training, practice, and mentorship) established for basic or advanced certification. Certification does not mean that we endorse a person or have evaluated their level of competence.


Progression of  Preparation in Natural Lifemanship

  1 2 3 4 5
Progression of preparation in NL: Participate in the entry-level training Participate in an intensive training In process of becoming certified NL Certified NL Advanced Certified
What it means: To attend the Fundamentals of NL training. To attend the NL Intensive training. To enroll in NL certification and actively work towards requirements. To successfully complete and maintain all certification requirements and to be granted certification by NL. To successfully complete and maintain advanced certification requirements and be granted advanced certification by NL.
What one may say about one’s NL qualifications: “I’ve attended an NL training.” “I am NL trained.” “I am in the process of NL certification as a ____.” (insert qualifier) “I am NL Certified as a ____.” (insert qualifier) “I am NL Advanced Certified as a ____.” (insert qualifier)



Qualifiers for NL Certifications

Professional Qualifier


NL Certified (NLC) pertains to professionals who DO equine assisted work.


NL Relationship (NLR) pertains to people who use Natural Lifemanship in their professional practices but who DO NOT DO equine assisted work.

— C


This is a LICENSED MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL (licensed by state governing boards to practice mental health – for example, professional counselor, social worker, psychologist, etc.).

NLC-C is a licensed mental health professional who is certified in Natural Lifemanship to practice Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Psychotherapy™. NLR-C is a licensed mental health professional who is certified in Natural Lifemanship to apply NL principles in their therapy practice, without the help of horses.
— EP

EP=Equine Professional

NLC-EP is a Natural Lifemanship Certified Equine Professional.

This is a HORSE PROFESSIONAL who is certified in NL to practice equine assisted work. An EP may not claim to be providing therapy on their own, however they are trained to co-facilitate therapy sessions with a licensed, certified mental health practitioner. EPs may facilitate equine assisted learning and other activities assuming they meet professional qualifications for those fields.

— C,EP NLC-C,EP is a dually certified Licensed Mental Health Professional/Equine Professional meaning this practitioner meets the qualifications for both roles. Dually certified professionals may work independently but often choose to work with an EP to co-facilitate TF-EAP sessions. Not Applicable
— P


A practitioner is a professional who serves in any discipline other than licensed mental health. For example, a life coach, teacher, caseworker, or business consultant are all considered practitioners.

NLC-P is a practitioner who does equine assisted work with the assistance of an EP (for example, equine assisted team building or equine assisted life coaching). NLR-P is a practitioner who uses NL principles to do life coaching, team building, teaching, etc. without the help of horses.
— P, EP NLC-P,EP is a practitioner (life coach, etc.) who is dually certified as a horse professional. This individual is qualified to do equine assisted work independently. Not Applicable