- Student type: Domestic
- Degree type: Masters
- Degree(s): Master of Social Work
Master of Social Work
"I am a community mental health engagement worker and social worker at The Alfred St Kilda Road Clinic, which is an adult out-patient mental health clinic. My professional interest is the use of animal assisted therapy in individual and group psychotherapy environments.
Prior to becoming a social worker, I was a primary school teacher, which I thoroughly enjoyed however I sought a change in careers to challenge myself to work in the mental health field of practice. I completed my Bachelor of Arts (Psychology & Sociology Major) at the Monash Caulfield Campus some time ago and had a positive experience so it seemed like a natural progression to continue postgraduate studies at the same university and campus. The course’s emphasis on social justice and human rights closely aligned with my personal values and are hallmarks of social work.
At the St Kilda Road Clinic, my role is to: welcome and orientate new consumers to the clinic; engage with current consumers to navigate mental health services; and access other internal and external health and community services. I’m also a certified therapy dog handler, and trained my Golden Retriever, Sophie, as a therapy dog – who accompanies me at work.
Without a doubt, seeing the smiles on the faces of consumers, colleagues and of course Sophie when the human/dog bond is activated is the most rewarding aspect of my role. People’s hearts melt during interactions with Sophie who is so receptive to human affection- she simply loves being patted.
Social work encompasses such a vast array of fields of practice. When studying social work, my advice is to be open to all aspects of the course and don’t close your mind to other possibilities. I remember writing a 5000-word essay titled ‘Do prison dog-training program (DTP) interventions using dogs reduce recidivism rates and promote pro-social outcomes and rehabilitation in offenders?’ for the elective unit Criminology and Social Work. At the time the dream of training Sophie to be a therapy dog was in its infancy. I never would have dreamed whilst researching and writing the essay that Sophie and I would have qualified as a certified therapy dog and handler team and my workplace would be receptive to having a therapy dog on staff.
My plan is to become an accredited mental health social worker with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) and continue to incorporate dog therapy and perhaps equine therapy into psychotherapy."