You can now find a social worker in a place that you might not expect – your veterinarian’s office. Veterinary
Social Work is a new specialty area of the field of social work. Veterinary Social Workers attend to human needs at the intersection of veterinary practice and social work. The term Veterinary Social Work was coined by Dr. Elizabeth Strand, a professor at the University of Tennessee School of Social Work at Knoxville. Dr. Strand developed the first post-master’s certificate in Veterinary Social Work. To earn the certificate, licensed master social workers complete online educational modules and attend workshops in Knoxville, TN. Certificate participants receive comprehensive training in Animal Assisted Interventions, Grief & Bereavement, Compassion Fatigue & Conflict Management, and the Link between Human & Animal Violence.
After completing the certificate, Veterinary Social Workers abide by their oath. “Specializing in veterinary social work, I pledge my service to society by tending to the human needs that arise in the relationship between humans and animals. From a strengths perspective and using evidence- based practice, I will uphold the ethical code of my profession, respect and promote the dignity and worth of all species, and diligently strive to maintain mindful balance in all of my professional endeavors.”
Paumanok Veterinary Hospital in Patchogue is the first veterinary practice on Long Island to offer Veterinary Social Work services to clients and wellness services to staff. Dr. Pamela Linden, LMSW, PhD, a Clinical Associate Professor at the Stony Brook University School of Health Technology & Management and affiliate of the SBU Center for Community Engagement & Leadership Development, and Annalese Coogan, a graduate social work student intern, conduct outreach to clients who have recently lost their companion animals and offer supportive grief counseling. A Pet Loss & Bereavement support group will be offered in the coming months. Paumanok’s Veterinary Social Workers also plan to provide Disability Etiquette training to new PRAAT (Patchogue Rotary Animal Assisted Therapy) volunteer handler-dog teams who conduct visits to hospitals, universities, nursing homes and other facilities.