Dr. Laura Pedersen partners with her mini Aussie Jameson to implement Animal-Assisted Interventions in corrections.
In this 64th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I chat with Dr. Laura Pedersen and her miniature Australian Shepherd, Jameson. We talk about their work with Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) in a place that helps people with mental health problems who have been in trouble with the law. They have made a special program that brings therapy dogs into one-on-one and group therapy sessions.
Laura tells us how she started working with therapy dogs by volunteering with Pet Partners and how she saw that Jameson had a special talent for connecting with patients. She points out that it’s important to understand your therapy dog’s ways of communicating and being open to trying new things when working with different animals.
We talk about the good things that come from having therapy dogs in places that help people with mental health problems and legal troubles, like patients being more involved, feeling better, and a more relaxed atmosphere. Laura also stresses the need to teach staff and patients about what therapy dogs do and what to expect from them so everyone knows the rules and the dog stays safe.
During our chat, Laura shares helpful resources for adding animal-assisted therapy to her work, like research from Pet Partners, books, and special certifications. She also talks about her experiences working with Pet Partners volunteers and their dogs in a prison, learning about different dog personalities and how they affect therapy sessions.
After listening to this episode, you’ll understand more about how therapy dogs can help people in a mental health and legal setting, and what it’s like to work with a therapy dog like Jameson. Laura’s love for her work with Jameson will make you think about how adding animal-assisted therapy could be good for your own work too.
In this episode, we discuss …
- Why Laura recommends beginning with volunteer work.
- How she learned to read Jameson’s communication.
- How Jameson helps her to reach the people she works with.
Key moments you won’t want to miss:
- [00:47] Laura tells us she’s a counselor at a mental health hospital for people who’ve been in trouble with the law, and she works with her therapy dog, Jameson.
- [01:27] Jameson helps patients learn about caring, body language, and personal space, while making the therapy room feel more peaceful.
- [03:27] Laura explains how to become a Pet Partners handler, including taking an online class, a real-life evaluation, and making sure the animal is a good fit for the job.
- [07:33] Laura points out the difference between therapy dogs and service dogs, and how therapy dogs aren’t allowed everywhere like service dogs.
- [11:20] It’s important to teach staff and patients what therapy dogs do and what to expect, so everyone knows the rules and keeps the dog safe.
- [16:18] Laura talks about how using animals in therapy helps patients be more involved, feel better, and creates a more relaxed place.
- [21:03] She shares helpful resources for using animals in therapy, like research from Pet Partners, a book by Dr. Chandler, and a special certification from Oakland University.
- [22:53] Laura talks about her experience working with Pet Partners volunteers and their dogs in a prison, learning about different dog personalities and how they affect therapy.
- [24:04] She says it’s important to be open to trying new things and learning from different animal partners in therapy.
- [26:34] Laura suggests volunteering as a way to learn more and build a good relationship with your therapy dog, and knowing what you’re good at.
I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I do. Give it a watch or a listen and then let me know in the community which part you found the most helpful!
Mentioned in this episode:
- Animal Assisted Play Therapy by Risë VanFleet and Tracie Faa-Thompson
- Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling by Dr. Cynthia K. Chandler
- Handbook on Animal-Assisted Therapy by Dr. Aubrey Fine
- Oakland University’s Certification as a Human-Animal Intervention Specialist (CHAIS)
- Pet Partners
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