People from many backgrounds have reported the beneficial effects from interactions with animals, both as life companions and as service or therapy "assistants." Scientific researchers can help us understand both how beneficial effects occur and how to protect participants from any risks associated with human-animal interactions. Animal-assisted programming has been offered in schools, workplaces, medical and mental health hospitals/clinics, military sites and senior living facilities.
To help the campus and community better understand some of these issues, SUNY Fredonia Psychology Professors Bruce Klonsky and Nancy Gee and Community Psychologist Sandra Vedovato are hosting a two-part series, "Horses, Hounds, and Healing Arts: Animal-Assisted Learning and Therapy Programs," which will allow participants to hear from experts in the fields of animal-assisted learning and therapy.
Part one of this program, which will focus on horse/equine therapy, will be held on Oct. 20 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Williams Center's Horizon Room on the Fredonia campus.
Debbi Fisher (left), operations director for the Rainier Therapeutic Riding Center in Yelm, Wash., will be among the leaders of an equine therapy workshop at SUNY Fredonia on Oct. 20. Fisher has served many members and veterans of the armed forces through an equine therapy program she co-founded in 2008.
Claudia Monroe, a physical therapist, hippotherapist and founder of the Centaur Stride Therapeutic Riding Center in Westfield, and Debbi Fisher, operations director for the Rainier Therapeutic Riding Center in Yelm, Wash., will speak and serve as workshop leaders in discussing equine-assisted program services. Monroe has served individuals with medical and mental health challenges in Chautauqua County for 20 years, while Fisher, a Path-Certified riding instructor, has served members of the armed forces in the program she co-founded in 2008. Fisher is also the mother of a daughter and son currently serving in the armed forces, as did her late husband.
The second session to be held on Nov. 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., will focus on canine therapy topics and feature Dr. Gee and Jonell Belcher, MSW. Gee is a Mars Corporation Fellow in Human-Animal Interaction whose professional research has revealed the positive effects which dogs have on the motor and cognitive skills of young children. Belcher is a SUNY Fredonia graduate (Class of 2010) and a military veteran who recently obtained her master's in Social Work (MSW) with an animal-assisted social work certificate from the University of Denver.
Representatives from schools, medical and mental health facilities, senior programs, civil service organizations like fire and police, military organizations and prison programs may especially benefit from this program.
Each event's morning keynote session, as well as the special planning session about military and civilian responder programming on Oct. 20, are free and open to the public. However, attendance at workshops requires advance registration and a fee of $12 per person, which includes lunch. Campus and community groups are welcome to sponsor an individual's attendance at workshops.
Funding for these programs has been provided by the SUNY Fredonia Convocation Committee as well as the Faculty-Student Association. To learn more or to pre-register, contact Dr. Klonsky at 673-3892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.