A Deep Calling
Behind every organization is a story. Someone’s story. A story about a need, a calling, a gifting. The story behind Unbridled Way Forward begins with Amanda Graham.
Amanda is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, meditation teacher, and natural leader. She’s passionate about people discovering their true path through the unique power of incorporating horses into mental health and wellbeing services. But Amanda’s career didn’t begin here. Her path has not been straight nor smooth, but it has been guided by a deep curiosity about human behavior, a love for animals, and a desire to be of service.
Amanda grew up in South Carolina and went on to Florida State University (FSU) to pursue a career in theater. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Acting from FSU and launched a career performing and traveling around the country. After landing in San Francisco, Amanda’s heart led her to volunteer weekly at the Marine Mammal Center and after a few years, she began moving away from acting. She then decided to pursue veterinary school before her life was turned upside down.
“You’ve become something larger.”
These words were written on scratch paper by Amanda’s husband many years ago as he was dying from cancer. As a young widow, she was called to face this immensely difficult and life-changing season that eventually changed the trajectory of her life’s work. It also confirmed her belief that we can find our greatest strengths by facing our biggest fears.
As she reorganized her life, Amanda was drawn to be with horses again, something she had loved as a child but had laid aside. Riding horses and spending time with them as she moved through her grief helped her heal and sparked a renewed interest in human behavior and the human spirit. She enrolled at UNC-Greensboro, where she received her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. She then interned at a program at Duke University that incorporated mindfulness meditation with substance use treatment.
Amanda remarried and moved to Colorado where she lived on a 36-acre ranch with horses. For several years, she was the Director of the Center for Mental Health in Gunnison. Amanda’s counseling experience grew, including working with critical incidents and first responders, as well as creating programs for leadership, mentoring, meditation, and health. It was here that Amanda was first introduced to psychotherapy and personal development incorporating horses. She became certified by Eagala and launched her first program, “Horses for Change”, under the auspices of the Center.
In 2012, Amanda was called back to North Carolina and stepped away from the hands-on work of her previous chapter. She worked for eight years in executive leadership at a large not-for-profit managed care behavioral health company, facilitating change on a larger canvas. She brought her skills, passion, and purpose to organizational development, leadership, and teams.
During that time, Amanda also continued to work part-time with Eagala, training other professionals in the model. Later, she joined some of these international leaders to create a new global organization, Arenas for Change.
In 2020, even when the world stood still, Amanda decided to return to her passion: working with people and horses. Unbridled Way Forward was officially birthed with a desire to help transform hearts and minds through the power of horses.
Why Unbridled Way Forward?
Merriam-Webster defines unbridled as unrestrained. Unbridled Way Forward believes that horses can remove obstacles to transformational change, bringing things into focus that have been forgotten or never brought into awareness. Horses help us learn about ourselves and explore our life stories in a way that is psychologically safe.
Unbridled Way Forward is the culmination of a lifetime of growth and work, 20 years of practice, and a deep desire to help people flourish. Amanda’s diverse experience and training in a variety of equine assisted and mindfulness interventions models has cultivated a practice that curates individual and customized programs to ensure your needs are met.
At Unbridled Way Forward, you will find a safe place to explore, discover, and grow beyond what you thought was possible. In fact, when you step onto this land, we believe that your breathing will slow down, your eyes will open, and your heart will find peace. We will help you develop the practices, strategies, and pathways that work well, and identify the ones that don’t. Our goal is for you to trust your own inner compass, becoming stronger and more trustworthy to yourself and others.
Welcome to Unbridled Way Forward.