Animal Assisted Therapy

We offer animal-assisted therapy (AAT) by appointment and a weekly drop-in hour. Appointments to meet with the CMHS dog therapy team are by request and based on availability. Available at the SMFA and Medford Campuses. 

Angel, the therapy dog, retired in Spring 2020 to care for herself during the pandemic. CMHS therapy animal services are not currently available. Please feel free to check back in future semesters, or subscribe to the CMHS Newsletter for updates.

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What does a Therapy Dog Do?

Over the course of the last several years, there has been an emerging understanding that the presence of a qualified therapy animal team can have a beneficial emotional and physiological impact within a therapeutic setting.  The literature suggests that the presence of a therapy animal in psychotherapy may “ease the stress of the initial phases of therapy to establish rapport” (Fine, 2006). The presence dogs presence may soothe, comfort, distract or reduce anxiety while a student engages in therapy, a process that, at times, may stir up difficult emotions.

A therapy animal may also elicit a range of emotions or feelings for students. “Sharing these feelings with or about the animal can initiate the emotional sharing process with the counselor” (. For the client, the animal is seen as a friend and ally, thus presenting a safe atmosphere for sharing. The animal offers nurturance through a presentation of unconditional acceptance and interaction. The experience of a client interacting with an animal can provide knowledge about boundaries and limit setting by observing and imitating the counselor-animal interactions. (“Sophie, Certified Therapy”, 2014)

  • Fine, A. H. (2006). Handbook on animal-assisted therapy: theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice (2nd ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press.
  • Quick Links. (n.d.). Pet Partners®. Retrieved July 29, 2014, from https://www.petpartners.org/
  • Sophie, Certified Therapy Dog | SUNY Geneseo. (n.d.). Sophie, Certified Therapy Dog | SUNY Geneseo. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from Mission Statement / Meet Our Staff | SUNY Geneseo.