Licensed Therapist Sarah Steelman plans to partner with her dog Sepi for Animal-Assisted Therapy in Las Vegas.
In this 65th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I chat with Sarah Steelman, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a PhD in human development, and her Whoodle, Sepi. We discuss their plans for Animal-Assisted Therapy in Las Vegas and how Sarah intends to incorporate Sepi into her private practice and professional trainings.
Sarah shares her journey of choosing Sepi with the specific goal of training her as a therapy dog from the start. We talk about Sepi’s early training, socialization, and how she passed her Canine Good Citizen test at just 13 months old. Sarah also emphasizes the importance of a dog’s natural desire to be a therapy dog, as it can’t be taught.
Throughout our conversation, we explore the creative ways Sarah plans to incorporate Sepi into her practice, such as experimenting with different trainings and settings to find where Sepi fits best. Sarah hopes to volunteer with Sepi in various programs, like Reading with Rover, and encourages other therapists to properly train their pets for Animal Assisted Interventions.
We also discuss the ongoing challenge of educating people about the differences between therapy dogs, service dogs, and emotional support animals. Lastly, Sarah offers valuable advice for those interested in therapy dog training, including staying present, prioritizing self-care, and nurturing the bond between dog and owner.
After listening to this episode, you’ll gain a better understanding of the process of training a therapy dog, as well as the exciting plans Sarah and Sepi have for their future in Animal-Assisted Therapy.
In this episode, we discuss …
- How Sarah’s love of dogs led her to a creative way to up-level her skills as a therapist.
- What she looked for in searching for a Therapy Dog.
- How she is pacing her training so that Sepi will be ready when she returns to in-person sessions with her clients.
Key moments you won’t want to miss:
- [01:11] Sarah works with the LGBT community and conducts ethics trainings for hospitals around working with trans populations.
- [03:32] Sarah chose Sepi intentionally to train her as a therapy dog from the start.
- [05:04] Sepi passes her Canine Good Citizen test at only 13 months old.
- [07:08] Early training helps Sepi build confidence and learn good behavior.
- [08:12] A dog’s natural desire to be a therapy dog is important, as it can’t be taught.
- [09:50] Sarah uses a stroller to socialize Sepi before she is vaccinated.
- [10:27] After vaccinations, Sepi attends daycare and visits Sarah’s therapy office for more socialization.
- [12:09] Sarah believes Sepi will enjoy therapy sessions because she loves being around people.
- [16:29] Sarah plans to volunteer with Sepi in programs like Reading with Rover and encourages proper training for Animal Assisted Interventions.
- [18:40] Educating people about the differences between therapy dogs, service dogs, and emotional support animals is an ongoing challenge for Sarah.
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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