DENTON (UNT), Texas – As schools reopened in West, Texas, after last week’s fertilizer plant explosion, therapy dogs were nearby to help students emotionally adjust, according to news reports.
Dr. Cynthia Chandler, director of the University of North Texas’ Center for Animal Assisted Therapy and author of the recently published second edition of “Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling,” is available to discuss how therapy animals can help people recover after crises. Chandler and her therapy dogs helped Hurricane Katrina evacuees recover in 2005.
“The handler of the pet guides or directs the dog to sit with or next to the child or adult, and they can pet or hold the animal while they talk – and behaviorally, it is obvious how calming and comforting it is to sit next to a dog,” Chandler said.
UNT’s center, which began in 2002, trains professionals and volunteers in animal-assisted activities and therapy with schoolchildren, nursing home patients, juveniles in detention centers, those needing counseling after a crisis, and others. The center offers training sessions twice a year for professionals and volunteers interested in learning more about therapy animals.
For interviews about animal-assisted therapy, contact Chandler on her cell at 940-367-4189 or by email at Cynthia.firstname.lastname@example.org.