Natalie and Bubba
Natalie Runge, MA, LPCC, C-AAIS (licensed professional clinical counselor, certified animal-assisted intervention specialist) is the founder, clinical director, and owner of Birchwood Counseling, LLC. She earned a Master of Arts degree in counseling psychology from the University of St. Thomas. She completed the Animals and Human Health certificate program through the Graduate School of Social Work and the Institute of Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver. She is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who specializes in working with adolescents and adults providing individual, couples, family, and group therapy. Natalie is a certified animal-assisted intervention specialist through the association of animal-assisted intervention professionals and provides animal assisted therapy by partnering with equines as well as canines, and is a trained Level 1 and Level 2 EMDR trauma clinician through EMDRIA. She is an approved clinical supervisor through the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy and provides consultation to organizations and individuals wishing to implement animal assisted therapy into their programming.

Natalie works with individuals in treating complex trauma and abuse, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, adjustment disorder, personality disorders, psychotic related disorders, family violence, severe and persistent mental illness, and other mental health related issues. She has experience providing animal-assisted therapy with canines and by partnering with equines in individual and group equine-assisted psychotherapy. Her work in the field of animal-human interaction includes furthering awareness and understanding of the human-animal bond, advocating and educating on the link between animal cruelty and family violence, and she is a co-author to book chapters pertaining to the human-animal bond. In her free time, Natalie enjoys volunteering for local dog training classes and is a volunteer K9 handler team with her certified SAR dog, Oliver, for a local K9 search and rescue nonprofit organization.



                     Meet Rosie

Rosie is a 20-year old, red roan Quarter Horse. Rosie has so many great qualities about her which make her an amazing therapy horse! She is able to meet people where they are at and reads people well! She can be quiet and shy but also outspoken and makes her presence known in powerful ways when needed. She loves to be brushed, groomed, and just loved on in general!

                      Meet Taffy Lou

Taffy is a 12 year old minitature horse and was donated to the Birchwood Counseling equine assisted psychotherapy program alongside her brother Thunder. Taffy has a very sweet and silent demeanor. She is very aware of what others are feeling and has a great ability to connect with humans and other animals. 

                Meet Thunder Jackson

Thunder is a 9 year old miniature horse. He was donated to the Birchwood Counseling equine assisted psychotherapy program. Among his amazing qualities include his gentle temperament, sense of humor, and ability to connect to other animals and humans.

                          Meet Cali

Cali is a 2 year old purebred Golden Retriever. Cali recently joined the Birchwood Counseling animal assisted therapy program and is a therapy dog in training. She is settling in quite nicely, loves people, loves to be a weighted blanket, and brings comfort and joy to sessions. Cali is working towards completing her Canine Good Citizen Test and will go on to register as a canine assisted therapy dog. She is a dual-purpose dog as she is also in training as a tracking dog for the Central Lakes Search and Rescue Unit. 

                        Meet Oliver

Oliver is a 1 1/2 year old goldendoodle. He is currently in training as a canine assisted skills therapy dog for the Birchwood Counseling agility skills therapy program. Oliver is intelligent, has a balanced high drive and working dog mentality which makes him a great dog to partner with clients specifically working on building self-confidence, increasing self-esteem, improving self-regulation skills and much more. Oliver is a dual-purpose search and rescue dog and is certified as an area search as well as building search dog through the North American Police Work Dog Association. He also passed his Canine Good Citizen Test through the AKC.

                     Meet Baruch

Bio to come

                                Meet Bubba                                                 Bubba was Natalie’s registered therapy dog and worked alongside Natalie in the mental health field for several years. Bubba had retired and recently passed away but made an appearance in sessions periodically. Bubba was adopted by Natalie in 2010 after she fostered him for a period of time. Bubba completed the Pet Partner’s training and was registered through the American Kennel Club as a Canine Partner. Among Bubba’s amazing qualities, he had a unique sense of humor and incredible ability to help people by teaching them ways to recognize, feel, and manage their emotions. Some of his favorite hobbies included going for walks, smelling the air, basking in the sun, hiking, swimming, eating treats, and socializing with other humans and animals.