Posts by Risë VanFleet, PhD

Professional Decision Making in Animal Assisted Play Therapy™: How the Goodness-of-Fit Model Impacts Practice

Posted by on Oct 5, 2022

Decision-making in Animal Assisted Play Therapy™ and Animal Assisted Therapy practice is a complex process. Not only must practitioners know how to intervene to meet client goals, they must consider and advocate for the needs of the animals. Other factors play a role in determining what an actual intervention, lesson, or session might look like, also. This blogpost considers four aspects that are forefront in the minds of professionals using AAPT in their work.

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Case Formulation Guide for Professionals Working with Children and Families

Posted by on Sep 11, 2022

When child and family professionals such as play therapists and family therapists are presented with new cases, there is much to be learned in a short time. Working together with the family, therapists typically review the family’s history and relationships along with the parents’ or family’s reasons for coming. Regardless of theoretical orientation, therapists work with the family to establish treatment goals and an overall plan for moving forward. This can be an overwhelming task for relatively new therapists, and even for experienced therapists when confronted with complex and/or multiple traumas, attachment disruptions, and a multitude of other situations. Where does one start to tease apart the situation to determine which goals represent a starting place? There are no easy answers.

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Adapting to Adoption: Appreciating What Our Dogs Must Learn

Posted by on Aug 22, 2022

When dogs are adopted from a shelter, rescue, or other caretaking situation, they have an enormous amount to learn as they adapt to their new environment. We sometimes take that for granted and develop unrealistic expectations of them as a result. As we give them space and time to adjust, we can observe the situation from their viewpoint and alter our own expectations and actions to better help them feel comfortable in their new homes.

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Including Animals in Play Therapy — Not Just for Kids!

Posted by on Jul 18, 2022

Quite often when people hear “play therapy” they think of children. Play therapy uses the therapeutic powers of play (based on the seminal work of Dr. Charles Schaefer) and the natural features of childhood to provide a developmentally-attuned set of interventions and approaches to help children learn and heal. Even so, we know that play is important not only for children, but also for adolescents and adults throughout the lifespan. Humor and playfulness enrich people’s lives while providing a safety valve and coping mechanism for the more intense, serious aspects of life....

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When We Adopt a Dog: The Early Days

Posted by on Mar 28, 2022

Adding a new dog to the family requires considerable thought and planning. It’s a big decision requiring a lifelong commitment. When the dog arrives, the first steps including helping the new family member feel comfortable in the environment, assisting other animals in the family to adjust, and getting to know the new dog as well as possible. This process must precede decisions about any work in which the dog might become involved. This brief article highlights the early process to navigate the early days and weeks.

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