A Round of ‘A-Paws’ for RWU’s New Animal-Assisted Therapy Class

心理学专业的学生可以获得实践经验, 了解动物如何成为治疗的来源, 在认证治疗犬哈珀的帮助下.

学生们正在抚摸一只黑色拉布拉多猎犬, who serves as a therapy animal in an RWU Psychology class
学生们宠爱哈珀, 一只六岁的治疗犬, who's part of a new Animal-Assisted Therapy course taught at Roger Williams University.

布里斯托尔,R.I. – Life isn’t so “ruff” in this Roger Williams University Psychology classroom. Students peek under their desks to find a furry friend with four paws, 摇尾巴, 还有一张等着揉肚皮的脸. 这个毛茸茸的朋友叫哈珀, a six-year-old Labrador retriever who is a certified therapy animal that is an integral part of Claire 怀斯曼's Animal-Assisted Therapy class. 

怀斯曼, 临床心理学家, 也是RWU的兼职教授, has worked with animals in a school setting since 2006 and launched her Animal-Assisted Therapy course at RWU this semester to teach students about the benefits of therapy animals and help shape what path they may take as psychologists. 怀斯曼, 谁有饮食失调方面的专业知识, said she has found that dogs have historically helped her clients tremendously. 

怀斯曼 hopes to spread knowledge about the proven scientific effects of pet therapy on people’s mental health and wellness. 通过向未来的心理学家教授这门课程, it gives them a glimpse into an alternative treatment they may not have considered otherwise.

Dr. 克莱尔·怀斯曼和她的治疗犬哈珀.

“Psychologists need to consider the benefits of animals much more than we do. 我们很快就会给人用药, but having animal therapy as an alternative could yield amazing results,怀斯曼说。, 红天基金会的创始人, 它支持所有类型的动物治疗, 从狗到马. “只爱抚了哈珀三分钟, 你开始分泌催产素, 哪一种是血清素的前体, 这样你就不会感到焦虑和沮丧."

在教室里, the students all greet Harper with smiles and a pat on the head as they walk to their seats. Harper has free range of the room as she goes around from student to student looking for a connection. The joy that radiates from the students is contagious.  

Harper, the black Labrador retriever, lays amongst the students during class.
Harper, the black Labrador retriever, lays among the students during class. 

Alyssa Vatalaro, a junior majoring in Forensic Science and minoring in Psychology and Criminal Justice, said she took this class to learn more about the benefits of animals and how they can assist in healing patients' illnesses. 

“I’m happy Roger offers this class,” said Vatalaro, of 缺少数量,N.J. “I think it’s a good addition to the Psychology department. 我喜欢哈珀在教室里.”

Vatalaro said she’s excited to apply what she learns in this class to her future career. 

“I am looking into pursuing forensic psychology and possibly working with victims. Animal-assisted therapy has helped patients with anxiety, stress, and 创伤后应激障碍,” said Vatalaro, who added that she loves dogs. “I would love to work with animal-assisted therapy for patients and see how it helps them succeed.”