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Chris & Jen Coursey

Dr. Jim Wilder

Ed & Maritza Khouri

Charles & Dawn Spoelstra

Amy Brown

Michel & Claudia Hendricks

John & Mary Ellen Saunders

Chris & Jen Coursey

THRIVE Training Developers

THRIVE Training has always played a key a role in Chris and Jen’s relationship. The fun started in 2000 when Dr. Jim Wilder started mentoring Chris. Due to the increasing number of people requesting Life Model training, Wilder and Coursey created a training package that would put the Life Model theory into practice. It was during this time Chris, while working as a pastoral counselor for a recovery ministry, met Jen and the two quickly became friends.

In 2002 the first THRIVE Training event took place as an experiment of sorts. Wilder and Coursey knew THRIVE Training was unique and unlike anything that had been tried before. They also understood that there is no shortcut to character building so people needed strategic, hands- on training to produce lasting change. After the first event it was clear the training surpassed Wilder’s and Coursey’s expectations. The combination of strategic brain training with the presence of Jesus transformed people and relationships. Attendees walked away saying, “If I would have known the week was going to be like this, I would have brought 5 people with me!” THRIVE Training was the start of something new, bold and transformational.

Without people realizing it, the first THRIVE Training event is where Jen achieved the impossible. Jen convinced Chris to participate in the synchronized dance training. Up to this point Chris carefully avoided the group activity, even though the group training would soon become a favorite for participants, even for Chris. Chris and Jen soon recognized God’s hand as well as the sparks between them, so years and numerous trainings later, they continue to run and oversee THRIVE Training events as well as a number of weekend trainings. Chris and Jen use the nineteen skills every day including training leaders and groups in the nineteen brain-based relational skills. The Courseys cannot help but share what God has done to dramatically change their lives, character and family!

Dr. Jim Wilder

? Track

Jim Wilder sat at Christmas dinner but could not lift his hand. Even though he was only two years old he was having a stroke. Soon it was obvious that he was spiking a high fever that proved to be viral meningitis – the dis ease portrayed in the movie Awakenings by Robin Williams and based on the book and true story of Dr. Oliver Sacks. He was a very sick boy and his community prayed urgently for him. Everyone else who had become ill in the epidemic was dead. Instead of being in  a wheelchair, mentally retarded or in a perpetual coma Jimmy was soon walking with the  help of a brace. As a boy with an uncertain and challenging future, Jimmy read biographies  of the doctors who discovered the causes and cures of plagues. He was taking pictures  through his microscope of unidentified protozoa by the time he was 12. 

At age 19 Jim witnesses his first miraculous healing from a psychological trauma. Having grown up during  extreme violence in Colombia (an estimated 250,000 people were brutally killed and danger was everywhere) he has seen the results of violence and trauma. Once he saw trauma healed by prayer, his interest in trauma recovery began. Here was a worldwide, unhealed epidemic from violence, abuse and war! Jim acquired a masters in theology and a doctorate in psychology that led to work with veterans, Nazi death camp survivors, addicts and abused children. He has spent over 30 years at Life Model Works (formerly Shepherd’s House)  leading trauma treatment programs. As a supervisor, Jim consistently received the most damaged people and continued his search for recovery for those considered untreatable by all known therapeutic means. By the mid-1990s trauma recovery was an established field but the estimated cost of recovery for one person with severe, life-long psychological trauma was estimated at fifteen million dollars. Doctor Jim knew there needed to be a better way or most of the traumatized people in the world would never be helped. He had already seen  a miracle and he was a walking miracle. 

Before the days of brain scans Doctor Jim worked in the VA hospital doing brain evaluations using the methods developed by the famous Russian doctor Luria. Doctor Jim built research equipment and even designed  and built computer circuit boards for research projects. Doctor Jim combined the work of the genius UCLA medical school professor known as the Einstein of psychiatry, Dr. Allan Schore with the work of the Nobel  prize winning doctor Gerald Edelman, Dr. Guillio Tononi and the brain scan work by the well known Dr. Daniel Amen and added the materials by Dr. Oliver Sacks, Dr. Daniel Siegel, Dr. Antonio Damasio, Dr. Vilaynur Ramachandran, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and others and combined them into a form that can be  taught to third-world peasant farmers with no education and still amaze career neurologists. At the center is the power of joy to passing a thriving human vitality from generation to generation. If you are human this will make sense deep in your genes and if you know your science it will be brilliant.

Ed & Maritza Khouri

Track 1

For more than 40 years, Ed Khouri has worked with substance abusers and their families in diverse settings. Serving as a pastoral counselor, trainer, and writer, Ed’s work has encompassed outpatient counseling, jails, transitional housing for homeless addicts in all phases of residential treatment. He even provided daily supervision for all therapeutic services and staff in a 96-bed state-licensed substance abuse treatment program. 

Today, as an experienced trainer, Ed leads workshops in churches and ministries worldwide, equipping workers to serve hurting men and women in their own communities. He regularly trains and collaborates with ministries including Thrive Today, The International Substance Abuse and Addiction Coalition (ISAAC), and Youth With A Mission’s Addictive Behavior Counseling School. 

Ed has a B.A. in Behavioral and Social Sciences and began his Master’s Program at the University of Florida. Ordained in 1988, he is the president of Equipping Hearts. 

Maritza’s clear calling and joy is to help restore the lives of women and their families after the devastation caused by substance and sexual abuse, trauma, and painful family relationships. She has been serving the addicted since 1989 and began full-time counseling in 1996. Maritza applied her extensive experience to aid women in outpatient therapy. After starting and leading successful church support groups for men and women, she left private practice in 2004 to begin serving the international community through the ministry of Equipping Hearts. 

Her service to women in recovery took a new form that same year when she became a Life and Recovery Coach, founding Recovery Seminars, LLC. In this role, Maritza serves as a mentor to women who have completed intensive therapy and are moving forward to the next stage of their life and recovery. Through her work with Recovery Seminars, she also provides training and curriculum development services for the addicted community, as well as the ministries and professional organizations that assist them.

Through her work with Equipping Hearts and as the director of Recovery Seminars, Maritza has become an international trainer—equipping, encouraging, and networking men and women around the world to more effectively serve the needs of those who hurt.

Amy Brown

Flex Track & Track 1

Amy Brown is the Director of Development and Journey Groups Director for Alive & Well, author of the Journey Group curriculum, and Director of the Journey Group Leadership Community. She leads weekend and 5-day events for THRIVEtoday and has taught in the Advanced Counseling Ministry training at YWAM Kona, as well as the OneLife program at Southern Wesleyan University. With Alive & Well, Amy directs the Journey Group program and mentors students who are training as Immanuel Encounter Guides with Alive & Well’s training program.

Amy is a specialist in small group dynamics and creating online communities. Journey Groups is a relational discipleship small group program that guides members in practicing the relational skills taught at Thrive and develops the topics of belonging, maturity, heart values, true identity, God’s perspective, Immanuel living, and healing, as found in the books Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You, Transforming Fellowship, Joyful Journey, and Relational Skills in the Bible, which Amy co-authored with Chris Coursey.

Charles & Dawn Spoelstra

Flex Track

Charles G. Spoelstra Jr. has been a counselor and healing prayer facilitator for the past 15 years. He was in his early 30’s when he first began his own personal journey of healing from past trauma through counseling and prayer, and now he leads others to their own discoveries with God. Charles has been the Prayer Facilitator for Life Model and Thrive today for the last few years. 

In 2013, Charles met Barbara Moon and experienced a very powerful healing. Barbara became a mentor for Charles, and taught him Jim Wilder’s teachings. He knew he needed to go to see more transformation in his life, and develop brain skills and emotional maturity in his family, so he and Dawn attended Thrive Track 1 with Ed and Maritza Khouri.

Through the years, they completed all three tracks, and then trained to lead True Identity and Track 1 under mentors like Kitty Wilder, Chris Coursey, and Amy Brown. 

Thrive training has been transformative for Charles, Dawn, and their boys. (Leif 13, Owen 11) In this community of love, they celebrate years of practicing presence, listening, stories, dancing, laughter, joy smiles and love. In turn, they now share with individuals, couples, and groups, helping others to experience what truly satisfies in relationship.

A part of their journey has been the discovery of physical and emotional health, that has led Dawn to become a Wellness Advocate with doTERRA Essential Oils. Having nurturing as her main heart characteristic, Dawn loves leading others to find natural solutions in their lives. Charles and Dawn both have online communities on Facebook where they share what they have learned. They would love to have you join at: Joyful Identity Group, and Good Sense Oils. Contact Charles at, and Dawn at

Michel & Claudia Hendricks

Track 2

Michel and Claudia met in Argentina when they were members of a team starting a ministry in the University of Rosario, Argentina. Michel was one of four people from Colorado and Claudia was one of five locals on the team. They both formed a deep respect and friendship during their time together that eventually bloomed into a long-distance relationship ending in marriage. They have three young adult children whom they have raised bilingually in their home. Their regular trips to Argentina have bridged the cultural distance and produced a deep love for all things Latino. 

Claudia met Jesus in high school through a classmate. She got involved in church, Bible and Mission studies and many types of church planting experiences. She especially had a heart for missions in closed countries. Before moving to the United States, Claudia was a professor of Speech Pathology at the University of Rosario in Argentina where she pioneered a preprofessional training track for students. This program offered free speech therapy for people living in poor areas of the city while also offering relevant practice for graduated students. After marrying Michel, she moved to Boulder, Colorado. In addition to being a mother, she worked for some missions organizations, taught Spanish at the University of Colorado in Boulder and currently teaches at the high school level. She has led Life Model trainings in Spanish in Mexico City and Chile and has co-led the 14-week training to love our enemies based on the book, The Pandora Problem. She has also led women’s soul group that initiate inner healing and emotional awareness.

Michel did not grow up in a Christian family, and he met Jesus when he read the New Testament for the first time. He thought the Bible was a boring book and that it would help him fall asleep one night. Instead he encountered Jesus and has never been the same. He joined a Christian group at the university where he studied and experienced a depth of community that was new to him. He worked for many years as a software engineer. Simultaneously, he attended Denver Seminary where he received an MDiv specializing in spiritual formation. He left the corporate world to become the pastor of spiritual formation at a church in the Boulder area. It was there where he realized that he didn’t know how to do his job. He concluded that he was missing big pieces of the puzzle in trying to help people grow and mature as Christians. God saw Michel’s confusion and led him to a “chance” encounter with Dr. Jim Wilder. Michel immediately knew that this was a divine appointment. Jim and Kitty took Michel and Claudia under their wings and opened their doors to them. He and Claudia have not looked back since jumping into the deep end of the Life Model pool. Michel works for Life Model Works as the Director of Life Model Consulting and is a co-author, with Jim Wilder, of The Other Half of Church, Christian Community, Brain Science, and Overcoming Spiritual Stagnation. He has taught and trained internationally in Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda.

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