Certified AAPT Professionals

Diane Dioguardi, LPC, RPT, CAAPT, CAEBS

Diane is Licensed Professional Counselor, Registered Play Therapist, and Certified Animal Ethology and Behavior Specialist in Connecticut and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York. She is currently working with children, adolescents and their caregivers in an outpatient clinic setting in New Milford, CT where she partners with her eight-year-old golden retriever Shannon who is AAPT-Approved and a Certified Facility Therapy Dog. Diane and Shannon tirelessly dedicate their days to working with children and adolescents who are struggling to overcome and cope with challenges, such as past traumatic experiences. When working with clients Diane incorporates into her practice play therapy and Animal Assisted Play Therapy®, with the help of Shannon, to create a nonthreatening therapeutic environment that allows individuals to feel safe, understood and supported so they can reach their goals. The use of playful and creative activities, which are both fun and help target clients’ interests, help to decrease clients’ resistance to the therapy process and create a trusting therapeutic relationship. Having Shannon in the playroom not only helps the clients engage more fully but, due to Shannon’s extraordinary ability to connect with children and adolescents, makes them feel special, accepted and loved, something that the clients we work with often lack in their lives. In addition Diane partners with Shannon during group therapy work and has created the BARK group, an anti-bullying social skills group where children and adolescents Build Acceptance Respect and Kindness towards themselves and others.

Diane is also a licensed veterinary technician and worked for over twenty years in the veterinary field as her first career. She has a strong background in animal behavior and canine training as a result of her experiences in veterinary medicine and showing her dogs in both conformation and obedience trials throughout the years. Diane’s present career is a dream come true as it combines her passion for helping individuals overcome traumatic experiences with her lifelong passion for the healing powers of the human-animal bond.

Presently Diane is training her second therapy dog, Takoda, a chocolate labrador retriever who became part of the family this past year. Though he is still young, Takoda has the innate traits, friendly temperament, and playfulness that will make him a wonderful AAPT dog. Diane is currently working with Takoda on becoming a Canine Good Citizen and will transition to more formal therapy dog training in the near future. Diane is actively working on starting a part-time private practice, in addition to her current work, where she can continue to partner with Shannon and Takoda to help others in an empathetic, nonjudgmental, supportive and creative therapeutic environment.

Diane can be contacted at: