#083: Animal-Assisted Occupational Therapy with Magi and Remi

by | May 15, 2023 | Therapy Dog Talk

Therapy Dog Talk - Magi + Remi

Madi Sontag and her dog Remi are charting their own course together in Animal-Assisted Occupational Therapy.

In this 83rd episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I sit down with Magi Sontag, an Occupational Therapy student set to graduate that weekend, about her capstone project at the therapy barn TREE House of Greater St. Louis where she and her dog Remi practiced Animal-Assisted Occupational Therapy together. Before this project, they also volunteered together as a Therapy Dog team in Omaha through Alliance of Therapy Dogs where they visited several locations including libraries, universities, nursing homes and shelters for the unhoused.

As Magi shares her story about creating her capstone project, she talks about the ups and downs of including Remi and the challenges of finding a place where they would be able to work together in animal-assisted therapy. She also talks about the importance of doing your research to confidently present the goals and benefits of your work as well as how important it is to have insurance.

While creating her project, Magi decided to compile the information she found on a Google site so that others could learn from her research in what it takes to get started in Animal-Assisted Occupational Therapy. It also contains what she learned about how to partner with Therapy Dogs in different ways.

Magi knows how beneficial it can be to partner with Remi in her work and illustrates this with a story about a time Remi helped a patient feel better during a tough exercise. For Magi, it’s clear that Remi loves people, which is why she originally started down this path as a volunteer team.

We also chat about how important it is for Therapy Dogs like Remi to have a good balance of work and rest. Magi shares some of her favorite ways to relax including enjoying the outdoors by finding new trails to explore. In closing, we mention how helpful it is to have a community of people who understand Therapy Dog work.

By the end of this episode, you’ll know more about the fun and challenges of working with Therapy Dogs. You’ll understand why it’s important to be flexible, and you’ll see how therapy dogs can form a special bond with the people they help. Magi and Remi’s story is sure to inspire anyone who loves dogs and wants to help others.

In this episode, we discuss …

  • Why Magi decided to volunteer with her dog Remi.
  • What it was like to find a place that would allow her to practice Animal-Assisted Occupational Therapy.
  • Why it’s important to connect with others who are partnering with their dogs.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

Note that the timecodes match the video, not the podcast.

  • [00:00:44] Meet Magi, an almost-graduate occupational therapy student, and her therapy dog, Remi.
  • [00:01:04] Learn about Magi and Remi’s journey into therapy dog work and how it became a major part of her school projects.
  • [00:01:55] Magi tells us how she found the podcast and was inspired by a Kristin and Winston’s endeavors as a fellow occupational therapy student.
  • [00:04:29] Magi points out how crucial it is to have insurance when bringing a therapy dog to work, something she found out during her project.
  • [00:04:55] Magi tells us about a helpful Google site she made, filled with info and resources for people interested in using therapy dogs in their work.
  • [00:06:02] We chat about great resources and groups to learn more about animal-assisted therapy, like IAHAIO and the Animal Assisted Play Therapy group.
  • [00:07:15] Magi shares about Remi’s big move from being a volunteer to a working dog, and how much she enjoyed the new setting.
  • [00:11:49] Get to know a fun dog training game called Super Bowls that Magi uses to help her clients work on skills like planning and coordination.
  • [00:13:37] Magi tells a heartwarming story about how Remi comforted a client during a difficult exercise, showing just how good therapy dogs are at helping people when they’re stressed.
  • [00:18:02] To wrap things up, Magi talks about how important community and resources are for those looking to work with therapy animals and thanks everyone for letting her share her experiences.

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:

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Therapy Dog Talk is a podcast where I interview a different team each week via Instagram Live. If you enjoyed this episode please find us over at Apple, Google, or Spotify and give us a follow after you leave a review.

Do you know someone who would make a great guest? Be sure to reach out and let me know.

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