Rachel pictured above with therapy dog partners Coach and Mia.
I am a licensed independent clinical social worker associate (LSWAIC), Certified Grief Recovery Specialist ®, and was a credentialed chemical dependency counselor for 20 years. I received my Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Drug & Alcohol Studies from Washington State University, and my Master of Social Work from University of Washington. I have been a longtime practicing animal-assisted intervention professional, and was a Pet Partners ® registered therapy animal team with multiple animals, and Licensed Pet Partners® Therapy Animal Instructor and Therapy Animal Team Evaluator for many years.I am certified through the Grief Recovery Institute as a Grief Recovery Specialist ®, and have specialized training and expertise in grief and loss (anticipatory grief, traumatic loss, death and dying, bereavement), life transitions. I have also received post-graduate training in the niche area of Veterinary Social Work (VSW-CP) from the University of Tennessee College of Social Work and School of Veterinary Medicine (Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program). I am also currently training in Brene Brown’s Brave Leaders, Inc. program “Dare To Lead”course: https://daretolead.brenebrown.com/
I am a current member with: the National Association for Social Workers (NASW), American Counseling Association (ACA), Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC), Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB), and International Association for Animal Hospice & Palliative Care (IAAHPC).
I have practiced in a multitude of settings over the last 20+ years, providing counseling to clients across the lifespan (children, adolescents, families, adults, seniors) within clinical, community mental health, residential treatment, school-based, hospitals and hospice agencies. I have integrated animal-assisted interventions with my animal teammates within each of these types of settings. For 6 years, I worked for the national organization, Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society) as the Therapy Animal Program Manager and Director of Programs, where I developed, implemented, and managed animal-assisted activities and therapy programming and day-to-day operations. I made the decision to leave that position and return to the field full-time as I am most passionate about providing direct services to clients, organizations, teams and colleagues. In order to provide my clients with the best care and support possible, I regularly engage in individual and group consultations and supervision sessions. I also continue to seek out continuing education in practice, theory and research within the fields of social work and the human-animal bond.
Present: Paws To Connect Counseling, LLC - Private Mental Health Counseling Practice. Owner & Therapist. Provide individual, family, and group therapy sessions. Offer both traditional and animal-assisted psychotherapy, specializing in grief, loss, bereavement, life transitions and compassion fatigue for veterinary and animal-care professionals.
Present: Summit Veterinary Referral Center; Founder & Leader of the Veterinary Social Work Department. Veterinary Social Worker. Provide grief, loss, bereavement counseling (individual, family, group counseling), facilitate a weekly pet loss support group, monthly closed loss support circle, animal caregiver seminars, pet loss memorial and art therapy events. Support clients experiencing anticipatory grief and difficult treatment decision-making. Provide support, debriefing and counseling sessions to veterinary staff, and support and training to referring veterinary hospitals and staff on compassion fatigue management. Manage and supervise a team of masters-level social work students for foundation and advanced practicum (internship) as part of their MSW program requirements.
Providence Hospice of Snohomish County; Bereavement Department - Grief Support & Bereavement Counselor for individuals across the lifespan (children, adults, seniors) and families. Also provided clinical grief support at Standing Together (bereavement group for families) and clinical grief counseling at Camp Erin (bereavement camp for children and adolescents), acting as clinical lead for the adolescent campers.
Youth Eastside Services; Clinical Youth & Family Social Worker/School-Based Social Worker for children, adolescents, and families.
Compassionate Canines; Owner. Chemical Dependency Counselor, Consultant, Pet Partners (therapy animal team) Instructor & Evaluator. Provided outreach counseling/animal-assisted intervention visits to local healthcare agencies (hospitals, hospice, treatment facilities). Taught therapy animal team classes/seminars and evaluations for new and renewing Pet Partners teams.
Delta Society/Pet Partners; Director of Programs & Therapy Animal Program Manager. Oversaw all day-to-day international operations of animal-assisted activities and therapy programming including: curriculum, volunteer therapy animal teams and professional animal-assisted therapy teams, instructors, evaluators and healthcare facilities; managed team of up to five department staff and ten onsite volunteers.
Northshore Youth & Family Services/Edmonds School District; School-Based Drug & Alcohol Counselor. Integrated animal-assisted therapy and interventions into school-based position.
Youth Eastside Services; Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor/School-Based Drug & Alcohol Counselor for Lake Washington & Bellevue School Districts. Co-developed, created and implemented animal-assisted therapy programming for Youth Eastside Services and within two schools in Lake Washington School District. Incorporated two therapy dog teammates into clinical practice and school-based counseling.
Kent Youth & Family Services; Intensive Outpatient Program. Chemical Dependency Counselor.
Ryther Child Center; Inpatient Residential Program. Chemical Dependency Counselor.
PROFESSIONAL LICENSURES & CREDENTIALS:
Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate (LSWAIC), State of Washington Department of Health, #SC60643532 (current)
Chemical Dependency Professional (CDP), State of Washington Department of Health, #CP00003658 (1996-2016)
Certified Grief Recovery Specialist ®, Grief Recovery Institute (current)
Registered Pet Partners Therapy Animal Team with multiple animals, #6932 (2003 - 2016)
Licensed Pet Partners Therapy Animal Team Evaluator, #6932-TE (2007 - 2014)
Licensed Pet Partners Therapy Animal Team Instructor, #6932-VI (2008 - 2014)