My FOcus: Building strong and resilient children and families
leveraging THe strength of the human-animal bond
Many children and adolescents will face mental health challenges over the course of their young lives. Families who seek care for them are often faced with long wait times, care that doesn't match their needs, or care that is not effective in reducing symptoms and improving daily functioning. Because many children and adolescents (as well as adults) relate easily to animals, animals are increasingly becoming partners in the delivery of children's mental health services, and these services are referred to as animal-assisted activities and therapies. Research is ongoing on the impact of these animal-assisted services and therapies, which commonly include, horses, dogs, cats, rabbits and more. Research shows that animals can play an important role in the delivery of youth mental health care.
Over the last two and a half decades, I have collaborated with university-based research teams and non-profit organizations to more rapidly translate scientific discoveries into everyday use to improve child mental health and family well-being. What I have learned is that while there are now treatments that have been identified that "work" (e.g., "evidence-based" therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy), most of these are still not available in everyday practice.
In 2020, I decided to merge my two decades of experience in children's mental health research and the design and delivery of evidence-based care with my passion for and appreciation of the strength of the human-animal bond. I am currently working on my master's degree in social work at Cleveland State University and was also recently accepted into the University of Tennessee Veterinary Social Work certificate program, a unique certification for professionals who work at the intersection of human and animal relationships. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in the veterinary social work space, and leveraging the power of the human-animal bond to improve children's mental health and well-being!
News and Notes
I am honored to have appointed to the International Association of Veterinary Social Workers Board of Directors.
About the Equine Therapy Research I am involved in at NYU
(Reining in Anxiety)
How to Realign D&I Science to Improve Children's Mental Health
Some of my favorite furry family friends ......