Imagine you’re a child, and a grownup has done something very bad to you. You’re hurt, you’re confused, you’re scared. Then you’re taken to an office where you know you’re going to have to bring up the awful memories again. The grownups at the office are all nice, but you still don’t want to be there.
The LCAC functions as a safe place for children who have been abused to tell their stories to accomplish justice and healing. Kids come to the LCAC for Forensic Interviews where they can tell their story of the abuse; for trauma therapy where they learn how to deal with the aftermath of the abuse. The LCAC even gives support for the rest of their family who is also traumatized by the abuse. All of these services are free of cost, so the LCAC is funded by grants, fundraisers, and private donations.
When kids need extra encouragement, Harper gives them a fist bump when they share a story. Some kids need help sitting still and focusing, so Harper plays a game of Pick Up Sticks with them to get them warmed up before their session. Sometimes kids have a hard time verbalizing what they’re feeling, so Harper breaks the ice by pawing a Feelings Card to show how she feels.
Animal Assisted Therapy is a growing field, and dogs like Harper are on the forefront when it comes to Animal Assisted Therapy in the field of Mental Health.
Are you interested in training a Facility Dog to do Animal Assisted Therapy in your workplace? Contact me to get started! With degrees in Psychology and Social Work and over 15 years’ experience training service dogs, I’m uniquely qualified to do the creative training required for this kind of work. If you’re in the field of child advocacy or on your county’s Multidisciplinary Team, you can also check out Harper, Becky, and Me as we present our work with Animal Assisted Therapy at the Connecting for Children’s Justice conference in Nashville, TN in November.
Elizabeth Morgan, trainer and owner of Alabama Dog Academy, and proud trainer of Harper, the Canine Advocate at the Limestone Child Advocacy Center.