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Therapy dog as an assistant in the school counselling service

Lina Novak (2020) Therapy dog as an assistant in the school counselling service. MSc thesis.

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    Abstract

    The subject of this master's thesis is the possibilities and adequacy of working with therapy dog in schools, specifically in a school’s counseling office, where social pedagogues can also be employed. Different practices in various countries have indicated numerous benefits of working with therapy dogs in different settings, where some of these impacts may be also very beneficial at a school counselor’s work. These could make it easier for school counselors to face some of their current challenges and help them get closer to their students. The first part of the thesis is based on theory and it outlines the role, responsibilities and characteristic of school counseling work. Dog assisted therapy and activities are then described, focusing on interventions in school setting. I also lay out the main requirements for attaining a dog assisted therapy certificate and formal processes in Slovenia to become licensed in this method. Then I give an overview of different areas where dog assisted interventions have been already integrated into practice and into existing programs in Slovenia as well as other countries, with the focus on the uses of dog interventions in schools and different counseling practices. For the empirical part of the thesis a combination of qualitative and quantitative research approach was used to test the suitability and response of employing a therapy dog in school counseling, as well as to research the possible obstacles and necessary conditions to do so. The research is focused on four different groups that represent both perspectives from the people directly involved in the school system and the people that have experience working with therapy dogs. Three school counselors, several students and employees of two different primary schools were included in the research as potential users and beneficiaries of dog interventions. Also four therapy dog handlers with several years of experience in dog assisted interventions for children and adolescents were included, where some them have already worked in school setting as well. The conclusion based on this research is that working with therapy dogs might be an appropriate (supplementary) method for school counselors, providing many benefits, be it while working with different groups of children, children with special needs or other individuals. It would also be beneficial for counseling meetings with students, providing better connection between the counselor and students as well as helping to calm down students with behavior issues. The research also unveiled various challenges posed by this working method, in particular organizational difficulties and logistics, the inadequacy of this intervention for students with fur allergy or fear of dogs and the negative effects of additional workload and responsibilities this would bring for school counselors who would decide to provide this working method in a school.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral problems, school, school counselling, therapy dog, dog assisted therapy and activities
    Number of Pages: 146
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    doc. dr. Nataša Zrim MartinjakMentor
    Link to COBISS: https://plus.si.cobiss.net/opac7/bib/peflj/21058051
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 6279
    Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2020 07:44
    Last Modified: 01 Jul 2020 07:44
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/6279

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