#060: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice in Animal-Assisted Therapy

by | December 5, 2022 | Therapy Dog Talk

Therapy Dog Talk - Mel Trueblood-Stimpson

Mel shares their insights on growing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice in Animal-Assisted Therapy.

In this 60th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, with Mel Trueblood-Stimpson, who is a Scientist, Consultant, Charity Director, and Certified Animal-Assisted Therapy professional in Ohio. Mel works with animals and focuses on making things more equal for everyone in the world of science. They also work with their therapy partner, Bowie, a special Norwegian Forest cat mix.

Mel tells us about their experiences as a Romani Indigenous person and the challenges they faced getting into Animal-Assisted Therapy. They’re passionate about making sure everyone gets a fair chance, and they want to see more people from different backgrounds in this field. They also talk about Ludar Animal Behavior, which is now called the LAB collective, a group that works on making things more equal and fair for everyone who works with animals.

We also chat about Mel’s advice for people of color who want to get into Animal-Assisted Therapy. They suggest finding people who support you and being aware of your own thoughts and feelings about different people. They explain why it’s so important to have different voices in the world of research and share their work in training and education for Animal-Assisted Social Work.

We talk about ways to make sure we’re being fair and open to everyone in Animal-Assisted Therapy. Mel tells us how to connect with their work and why it’s so important to focus on making things equal and fair for everyone in this field.

Listen to this episode to learn more about the importance of fairness and equality in Animal-Assisted Therapy and hear some great stories from Mel’s personal experiences and their expertise in the field.

In this episode, we discuss …

  • How working with the unhoused led Mel to Animal-Assisted Therapy.
  • Why Mel got involved in training and education for Animal-Assisted Social Work.
  • What we can do to address our own biases and awareness.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [01:35] Mel talks about how they first learned about Animal Assisted Therapy while helping homeless and traveling communities.
  • [03:21] We discuss the problems homeless people and their pets face, as well as the difficulties they have getting into shelters because of their culture.
  • [04:49] Mel wanted to be part of Animal Assisted Therapy to make it more diverse and welcoming to different people.
  • [05:56] Mel tells us about their animal partner, Bowie the cat, and how they help people in hospitals and mental health centers.
  • [07:08] Mel talks about how there aren’t enough Animal Assisted Therapy services for people who feel left out, and why we need more services that include everyone.
  • [08:20] Mel shares how they started teaching others about Animal Assisted Therapy after social workers asked for help with understanding different cultures.
  • [08:59] Mel explains how their group, Ludar Behavior Collective (LAB), changed from a pet behavior business to a group that works on animal behavior and making things fair for everyone.
  • [11:42] Mel shares the fun parts of Animal Assisted Therapy, like making friends with people, taking care of yourself and others, and helping the whole community.
  • [12:27] Mel gives advice to people who want to work in Animal Assisted Therapy, especially those who identify as BIPOC or other underepresented groups, about finding a support system they can trust.
  • [18:07] Mel encourages people in Animal Assisted Therapy to think about their own biases to make the field more inclusive for everyone.

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!

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