Therapy dogs bring many physical benefits to humans. They can help to lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce anxiety, and increase levels of endorphins and oxytocin- just to name a few! But therapy dogs don’t just have physical health benefits, they offer numerous mental health benefits as well.
On this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected, Dr. Fedrick is joined by Maddie Block, LMSW. Maddie works in animal assisted social work, and she is here to tell us more.
Key Takeaways from Liz’s 1-on-1 with Maddie:
• Hear about Maddie’s background in the mental health field
• Learn what the process looks like for an animal assisted therapy session
• Find out about the process to become a therapy dog
• Hear some of the benefits that therapy dogs can provide for clients
• Learn the benefits that Jovi the therapy dog has brought about in Maddie’s life
All of this and more, on this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected.
For more great Calm, Cool and Connected content, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, and all the popular podcasting platforms. (RSS) https://3cstvshow.buzzsprout.com
Already subscribed? Please take a moment to rate and review the podcast so that we can reach as many people that need the help as we can: https://3cstvshow.buzzsprout.com
DISCLAIMER: THE CONSULTATIONS OR INTERACTIONS OFFERED ARE NOT MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY. THE CONSULTATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND NOT STRUCTURED IN A WAY TO PROVIDE MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING/PSYCHOTHERAPY/THERAPY/ DIAGNOSING OF ANY KIND. YOU UNDERSTAND THAT CALM COOL AND CONNECTED IS NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION AS YOUR TREATING MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR, PHYSICIAN, ATTORNEY, LEGAL COUNSEL, EMPLOYER, MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. We offer no guarantees or promise of results from event nor assume liability for any information provided.
[00:00:00] Now more than ever. We have an opportunity to be a positive force in the world to help heal the divide, to treat each other and ourselves with respect. What was so many tools out there from meditation to physical training, proper nutrition therapy, and so many others. We all need a little help navigating all the options.
Join us as we share in depth information, insights, and thought provoking discussions that will help answer your questions about how to stay calm, cool, and connected during these times. Welcome to calm. Cool, and connected your guidebook to peace of mind.
Hello and welcome to calm, cooling connected. I'm your host, Dr.
Elizabeth Fedrick. So anyone who hangs out with me on Instagram is well aware of my newfound obsession, Theodore, the soon to be therapy dog. And I made the decision to bring Teddy on board recently as the newest member of my mental health team, because of the numerous benefits that therapy dogs offer including increased serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine also decreased cortisol, and they [00:01:00] really assist with emotional regulation.
Joining us today is Mattie block, who is certified in animal assisted social work. And Mattie's going to be chatting with us about the benefits of therapy dogs, as well as what this certification process looks like.
Maddie: Hi, Mattie. Welcome. Hi, how's it going?
Dr. Liz: Good. Thank you so much for joining us. And you got Jovie there with
Maddie: you, your team member.
Yes. She had to join.
Dr. Liz: Absolutely. Tell us a little bit before we jump in about your background and your work in the
Maddie: mental health field. Yeah. So I just graduated re like a couple weeks ago with my master of social work. So I did my master's program and then yesterday I just took my LMS w exam. So I passed that yesterday.
So now I'm a LMS w. That's so
Dr. Liz: exciting. Congratulations. That's such a big deal. Tell me, how did you decide to get into animal assisted social work? Where, where did that desire come
Maddie: from? Yeah. So in my undergrad of college, I had a friend who she had gone through something herself, and she ended up getting a emotional support [00:02:00] animal for herself to help her be able to stay in college.
So I just was able to see the benefit of animals in that sense. And then. Which I went into my master's program, one of my professors, he worked with a crisis response team that did therapy work with animals. So he kind of was like, introducing me to that. So that was kind of where I got that idea. Okay. So
Dr. Liz: very cool.
And so what does the process look like? So will Jo VB joining you in sessions? Is it like a dual role of animal assisted for you and then also with clients?
Maddie: Yeah, so it kind of depends on the client. I'll be starting my job in a couple weeks, once my license goes through. So eventually I'll have her join.
So I'll probably what I'm thinking of doing is doing half days for some of the days, just because it's kind of a long time to have them in office for eight hours. Sure. So come and start slow and then she'll be able to join with clients. She was able to do some of it with my internship. So she was kind of comes and joins with the therapy sessions.
That is so
Dr. Liz: neat. What was the [00:03:00] certification like? Starting from the beginning of the training throughout the process? What did that
Maddie: look. Yeah. So the first thing I did was get my animal assisted social work certificate, and that was three classes. It was through slippery rock university in Pennsylvania.
So I did that in one summer, and then we just did training from the day that she came home. And then we just had to do the therapy dog test, and then she passed that. So now she's a therapy dog.
Dr. Liz: What does the therapy dog test consist
Maddie: of? So it's actually pretty simple. It's pretty easy. You just, it's pretty much focused on making sure your animal likes people.
They're not aggressive towards people or other dogs. There isn't anything like obedience, like. Sit stay come, which you'd think is part of it, but that's not actually part of it. So it's really just making sure that they like people.
Dr. Liz: Okay. So that they are safe, that they provide like maybe a comforting presence for them.
Is that, and then will you do advanced trainings with it? Or what, where do you go from here? It's just getting her
Maddie: used to the sessions. Yeah. Just sort of getting her [00:04:00] used to the sessions. I'll definitely dogs. Don't generalize. So a lot of training things kind of have. Restart once I'm in the office so that she can get used to the sounds that are outside the office door and getting used to being around people and how the office is set up and everything.
Dr. Liz: So then there'll be a little bit of a learning curve once she gets
Maddie: into the office. Yeah. And that's why I kind of wanna start with half days just because she was doing half days at my internship. And even that was a little bit too much on some days, so it just sort of depends. And I have to get her used to it.
Dr. Liz: What does too much look like? Does she. Get like hyper or just start barking. What does that look like? She can
Maddie: get a little bit more aware of like, what's going on outside the door. So she hears people and then sometimes she can get a little bit mouthy. Like, she'll be a little bit just like wanting to chew on.
The carpet or whatever it is. So she has to get used to that because obviously she can't be doing that.
Dr. Liz: right. How do you manage that? Like through your internship? You know, when this is something that I've been thinking about, if I'm sitting there with a client processing something, and then Teddy starts, as you're saying chewing on the [00:05:00] rug, what, how are you, how
Maddie: do you find the balance there?
Yeah. So I basically, since I was an intern too, so like I was learning cause I was an intern, Jovie was learning cuz she was still in training at that point. So I kind of used it as an educational opportunity to just let them know like Jovie is still learning. So you have to bear with her and sometimes depending on what was going on, I could kind of bring it into their session too, to say like, You're still learning to do this type of coping or whatever.
So like she's learning how to cope in this new environment.
Dr. Liz: Oh, I love that. That's a great parallel process. Yeah. What are some of the benefits that you know, from research, but then also that you've seen directly that Jovi's provided for clients?
Maddie: One of the biggest things that I think is really beneficial is like in terms of no-show rates, it's shown to decrease the no-show rates because they might be a little more excited to see Jo Ovy instead of me, which is understandable.
Totally. So it's nice. Cuz sometimes if I had a client who was like, mm, I don't know if I'm gonna come in today, I could be like, well Jovi's gonna be here today. And they're like,
Dr. Liz: oh, okay. yes. [00:06:00] So incentive to get them in the. Which is so funny that you say that cuz after I did my post about Teddy earlier in the week I had about three clients that day say where's Teddy, you said you're gonna bring him in.
I'm like not quite ready. So that makes sense from a neurotransmitter and hormone, all of that really from a neurological standpoint, what are some of the benefits that they
Maddie: offer? Yeah. So like you were talking about in the introduction, things like increased serotonin and all those.
Hormones in the brain that are being released. It just makes people more calm mm-hmm so they may feel less anxious in the office, which is always a benefit. Of course.
Dr. Liz: Absolutely. Have you seen that as a direct benefit with the co-regulation piece, if maybe somebody comes in and is really emotional or anxious, have you seen that Jo's presence has been able to calm that.
Maddie: Very briefly. I was able, one of the clients that I had, this was one of my supervisor's clients, but I just came in because the client happened to like dogs and I was there. So my supervisor was like, why don't you bring Jo in? And she got right down on the ground with her. And [00:07:00] she was like putting her and everything, which was really nice.
So that was, that was pretty nice to see because she was so calm. Yes.
Dr. Liz: Yeah. And that helps with that a lot. And I know for the child and adolescent population that sometimes a therapy dog can also be a good incentive. Have you seen that? Do you work with that population
Maddie: at all? So I didn't get to in my internship just because they had to be at least 12 to be referred, but during my certificate program, I did get to work at a residential home for boys who had criminal backgrounds.
So I got to do two different groups that I got to run with the crisis response dogs. And that was incredible to see like how they were able to react to me, cuz I was just a young woman coming in for the like one time session. So why did, why they had no reason to trust me, but having the dogs there. That was awesome.
Dr. Liz: And what did you see? What was this like shift in their demeanor or what, what kind of surprised you about it?
Maddie: They were, there was so much laughter like they thought it was awesome. They were Some of them were doing coloring with the dogs. I'm trying to think of what I did. I think my favorite activity, which I [00:08:00] actually did this with Jovie and some of my internship ones.
You have a little dice and then like each number on the dice has a question associated and then you tos it to the dog. They catch it. And then drop it. And that was so, oh my gosh. That was incredible to see how excited they were about that. And they actually like were answering the questions and it was like, some people were pretty deep questions, but they didn't really realize it.
Cause it was just a fun game to them. Oh,
Dr. Liz: I love that. That's such a great idea. So it's really, it's just bringing a. Calmer more relaxed presence to the atmosphere, which helps the clients to engage more. It sounds like. Yep. Especially with the adolescent population who sometimes maybe there's a little more resistance or pushback.
Maddie: that's great. I was expecting the resistance, but I was surprised that we didn't really have it with the dogs present.
Dr. Liz: Yes. And what about for you personally? What benefits has Jovie brought to your life as a
Maddie: therapy dog? She has helped me with my patients personally, just cause I'm not a very patient person, but I have to slow down and kind of remind myself sometimes like she's still a puppy, so she's still learning.
And [00:09:00] I had to just learn to be more patient with her. And then that. Kind of transferred into my everyday life.
Dr. Liz: I can completely relate to that right now. Teddy has got a lot of energy. So tell us, Maddie, where can people find you on social media or websites? Where
Maddie: can you be found? Yeah, so I'm mostly active on TikTok and that is going to be social work therapy dog, as you can see on the screen there.
And then that's the same for our Instagram too, but I'm mostly on TikTok. Okay. Well,
Dr. Liz: very cool. Thank you so much for joining us today, Maddy. I really appreciate it.
Maddie: Yeah. Thank you for having me.
Dr. Liz: Absolutely. And thank you all for tuning in to this episode of calm, cool and connected. Please make sure to find us on Facebook and Instagram and also make sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast so that others can discover our content as well.
Thank you again for joining us on this episode of calm. Cool and connected.