Every Journey Begins
  with a Single Step...​​​​ 

​​Mary M. Barnes, M.A., MFT​​


​After surviving her own harrowing adolescence, Mary dove headlong into the field of recovery in 1988. Against the odds, she turned her life around, earned her Bachelor’s degree, and became a role model for young people achieving sobriety. Mary’s success story has been featured in several addiction-related texts, as well as a documentary film, ‘Expect a Miracle: the Mary Barnes Story’.

In 1993, Mary received her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and went on to become a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She spent ten years working in two prominent psychiatric hospitals, before venturing solely into her own private practice, where she enjoys helping others to overcome obstacles and reach their highest potential.

Mary takes a holistic approach to emotional wellness, believing the balance of mind, body, and spirit is essential. Mary strives to increase the client’s understanding and awareness of themselves, the first step in replacing old negative habits, patterns, and beliefs with more effective, adaptive, and healthy new ones.  She uses cognitive behavioral techniques and her own methods of goal attainment to set people off in a forward moving direction.

A break from the traditional urban setting, Mary’s office in the renovated carriage house is warm and inviting. Surrounded by rural beauty, the location itself promotes a peaceful feeling and lends naturally to the therapeutic process. A 4-legged crew serves as greeting committee, and the animals themselves may be incorporated into treatment, using Animal Assisted Therapy when indicated.

Mary has done extensive research in the areas of addictive disorders, adoption issues, and more recently, the expanding field of neuroscience. Other special interests include fertility issues, embryo adoption, and multiples consulting.

Mary still enjoys sharing her story of hope and inspiration to groups, organizations, and schools. She is available for motivational workshops, speaking engagements, and is accepting highly motivated individuals in her part time practice

​​It is not enough to know how to ride...
​                                  One must also know how to fall.


​​Mary grew up riding at Foxfield Riding School in Westlake Village, California. After trying out several other sports, Mary was relieved to find her two left feet mattered very little when sitting atop a horse's back.  From the age of eight, Mary found her grace in the saddle and horses became a life-long passion.
​The first 20 years of riding left Mary an accomplished equestrian, but the last two decades she has turned her focus from the competitive show ring to enjoying horses on a more recreational level.  Mary is the ideal riding instructor for those who wish to learn what it takes to care for a horse of their own.  Fitting for the Cornell School Ranch, Mary takes an old school approach to horsemanship. Students are involved in all aspects of ranch life, from grooming to feeding and even mucking out stalls.  Mary treats her stable of six as an extension to her family, and aims to instill the same love of horses in others.

Mary maintains a small riding school, and is the creator of several original horsemanship programs. Mary takes on only a small number of students at a time. Please inquire for current availability.

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 Equine Therapy

Combining her clinical psychology background with an innate understanding of horse behavior, Mary uses Equine Therapy to help individuals achieve therapeutic goals. She believes horses have a way of mirroring our own emotions, and the process of building a relationship with the animal can serve to improve the human relationships around us. Mary understands firsthand the power of healing that the unconditional love of an animal can provide.


Making Sense of Life with Words...​

​In addition to physical exercise, Mary credits writing as the single best free therapeutic tool that anyone can utilize on the quest toward emotional wellness. It has been scientifically proven that putting life experiences into words can promote crucial integration of different parts of the brain. Studies also show that the very act of writing down a goal increases the likelihood of achieving it. Among the numerous reasons to write, Mary believes that inside each of us is a story waiting to be brought to life.

Mary published her first book in 2003, Virginia Gentleman- A True Story, the heartwarming tale of the remarkable horse that helped carry her through the troubled teenage years. Mary is near completion on the sequel, Life with Madison, which picks up where Virginia Gentleman left off. Life with Madison delves into themes of identity, relationships, and the adventures of becoming an adult with a beloved dog as co-pilot. Presently, she is taking notes on the final book of the trilogy, Three’s a Charm. One might only guess what the subject matter entails. ​​

To order a personalized copy of
Virginia Gentleman- A True Story
from Cornell School Publishing Co.,
please click the book at left.