Mental Health Therapy & Veterinary Social Work
I am providing therapy sessions by telehealth only, statewide. My practice days are Monday - Thursday. Currently, I have a wait list for new clients. Please see below for more specifics on therapy services and social work services for veterinary professionals.
My practice offers and encourages a free, non-obligatory initial consultation (by video or phone, your choice) for all new clients. This free 30-minute consultation is currently offered on Tuesdays with one of my masters-level counseling students or interns. To schedule this, please click the "request appointment" button above. Due to my current waitlist and schedule, the consultation may only be scheduled online.
WEST COAST VETERINARY SOCIAL WORK/MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL CONSULT GROUP:
I host a monthly professional consult group for veterinary social workers/mental health professionals in veterinary medicine, who are located on the West Coast. Our group is held virtually every 3rd Tuesday of the month 8 am - 9 am PST. Please contact me for details and to join us. We currently have group members from WA, OR, and CA.
VIRTUAL DROP-IN PET LOSS SUPPORT GROUP:
This group runs every 1st/3rd Tuesday of each month from 6 pm - 7:30 pm PST. Group meetings are open to anyone grieving the loss of a beloved pet and individuals may attend at anytime during their grief process that works best for them. Group meetings will be facilitated by myself and/or masters-level counseling interns/students. The fee is $30/person per group session. For more information and to register for any of the upcoming dates, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also register here: https://forms.gle/Jc4DECinfAkK18y1A
VETMED DE-STRESSING ART GROUPS:
These virtual or in-person groups (your choice!) are specifically for veterinary medicine professionals (doctors, technicians, assistants, leadership and management staff). Join us for 1-hour to engage in a fun themed activity, to help you both de-stress and re-charge! We will work with your veterinary practice/organization to tailor a theme/topic that's right for you. Common themes include: boundaries, self-compassion, humor, self-care, stress, perfectionism, burnout. Group is facilitated by a licensed veterinary social worker and masters-level art therapy students. Fee starts at $250 for a group size of up to 30 attendees. For more information, please contact us.
My name is Rachel, and I am the owner of Paws to Connect Counseling, LLC. I focus on the intersection of mental health and the human-animal bond as a part of therapy. I am passionate about the beauty of the human-animal bond and have been gifted to spend my life with such precious animal companions, professionally and personally, who have been profound teachers. I understand the importance of the interconnectedness between humans, animals, nature and the therapeutic value between these relationships. I will honor and support your unique connection with the human-animal bond and how that impacts and enriches your mental health, therapeutic process, and healing at every level.
I practice as a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW) and mental health therapist in WA, veterinary social worker for the PNW, and consultant and presenter. I am also a certified grief recovery specialist and animal-assisted therapy professional. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology/Drug & Alcohol Studies from Washington State University; my Master of Social Work degree from University of Washington; and my Post-Masters Graduate Certificate in Veterinary Social Work from University of Tennessee (through the Colleges of Social Work and Veterinary Medicine), and am a certified Grief Recovery Specialist with the Grief Recovery Institute. I have also been a field instructor/supervisor for social work and counseling practicum students, interns and externs for the last 7 years. I have worked in the counseling field for the last 25+ years, providing services to a wide variety of clients across the lifespan in community mental health, inpatient addictions treatment, school-based, human and veterinary hospitals and human hospice agencies. I have integrated the intersection of mental health/the human-animal bond within different capacities for the last 20 years.
I was the Director of Programs/Therapy Animal Program Manager at Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society) located in Bellevue, WA, for 6 years, leading the international program on micro, mezzo and macro levels, running all aspects of the program, teaching and evaluating therapy animal teams, and integrating my own furry family members - Mia (bassador), Byron (flat-coated retriever), Coach (basset hound), and Clover (rabbit), as therapy animals into counseling with clients in clinical, healthcare and school-based settings. At Pet Partners, I was very fortunate to be both immersed in and surrounded by other like-minded colleagues, professionals, and organizations who were also very deeply passionate about the human-animal bond. Over the years, my beloved therapy animal partners have all passed away from Lymphoma, and therefore I do not currently have an animal partner in practice with me. However, I am currently working with my calico cat, Cairn kitty, to become a therapy animal team for integration into counseling sessions.
For 8 years, I worked at Youth Eastside Services, a community mental health agency located in Bellevue/Redmond/Kirkland, WA, specializing in therapy and other outreach services for youth, young adults, and families. It was here, in the beginning of my career as a mental health provider that I first honed my clinical skills working with individuals, families, groups and other systems. I was incredibly fortunate to have excellent mentors and skilled colleagues that helped me form my professional identity and foundational skill sets as a clinician. Working as a longtime clinical counselor at this agency, within the area of co-occurring issues (mental health and substance abuse), I, along with a close colleague co-developed and co-implemented Animal-Assisted Therapy Programs in both the clinical and school-based settings. I also helped to co-educate and train colleagues and on the framework, implications, and approaches of integrating animal-assisted therapy with different client populations.
I have been a veterinary social worker since 2015. I was the founder and leader of the Veterinary Social Work Program at Summit Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma, WA for 6 years where I worked as an embedded veterinary social worker providing supportive services to employees and clients (pet parents), and supervised interns/externs and another full-time social worker. For my last year, I worked with senior leadership as a social work consultant on culture change, improving client experience and communications, and wellness initiatives for employees. I was the first veterinary social worker in WA, and created the first mobile veterinary social work model in the field.
My passion for this work is rooted in my own layered journey coupled with the honor of being a witness to many others' journeys with the human-animal bond, grief, life transitions and caregiving. Over the last 10+ years, I have had extensive professional and personal experience with caregiver fatigue (I was a long-time caregiver for many years), anticipatory loss, grief, trauma and personal/professional moral injury. I understand the twists and turns on the road to healing. While it is very challenging and painful work, it can also be incredibly transformative, life-changing and beautiful. I am here to companion and walk alongside you every step of the way; to support you as you journey along this path to find your way to hope, healing and recovery.
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my partner and husband of 23 years and my furry family - Bear the sweet-and-spicy basset hound and two incredibly adorable and mischievous sibling cats - Cairn, the calico and Byson, the tiger tabby. I adore photography, traveling, reading, writing, camping and being in nature - whether that be hiking on the trails, being at the ocean, exploring a new National Park, or traveling to a 'bucket list' destination. I am passionate about being an empath, a vegan, and protecting and preserving our environment in micro, mezzo and macro ways.
My Practice Days are: Monday - Thursday.
My offices are conveniently located in the heart of downtown Redmond next to Sammamish River Trail, and right by Microsoft.
MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY
• Individual grief therapy sessions for human and animal loss
• Individual therapy sessions for women's issues, across the lifespan - mental/physical health, trauma, grief, familial and relational issues
• Individual therapy sessions for caregivers navigating medical care for a beloved person or animal with a chronic or terminal illness
• Couples therapy sessions, specific to grief or caregiving
• Individual therapy sessions for all types of veterinary/animal care professionals
VETERINARY SOCIAL WORK
• I can provide mobile (on-site) or virtual (via Zoom) veterinary social work services for veterinary/animal-care staff and teams
• I also work with veterinary practices and organizations on a contractual basis to provide individual therapy or individual debriefing sessions to their staff/members.
(coordinated directly through my practice)
• Individual sessions: focus on therapy or debriefing sessions (self-referral, or paid for by practice/clinic)
• Group sessions: focus on support, solution, topic-focused, de-stressing, and debriefing (paid for by practice/clinic)
*Please note: veterinary social work services are offered as either clinically-focused individual or group sessions; I am no longer able to provide presentations or CE's to individual practices or clinics
• Support, solution-focused, debriefing or de-stressing groups for veterinary practices and animal-care professionals. Please talk with me about options and pricing, and/or check back for offerings being hosted and facilitated by my practice.
• Support groups for grief, loss and caregiving (virtual). Please check the website for continued offerings being hosted and facilitated by my practice.
For National or Regional Conferences or Organizations ONLY. Presentations/webinars on a variety of topics for all types of veterinary/animal care professionals (in-person, mobile, or virtual). Please talk with me about options and pricing.
I provide consultations to social work/mental health colleagues, leaders, and veterinary/animal care practices and organizations. Please talk with me about options and pricing.
PRACTICUM/INTERNSHIP PLACEMENT & OPPORTUNITIES
I have been a field instructor and supervisor for masters-level social work and clinical counseling interns, externs, and practicum students for the past 7 years. For more information on current opportunities and requirements/parameters/scope of practice, please contact me.
RATES & INSURANCE
For my current rates for 2023, please see below. The time we schedule and spend together is reserved specifically for you. Please note, late cancellations (less than 24-hours) or no-shows for sessions will result in being charged the full fee. There is no fee for cancellations made 24-hours or more in advance and/or for rescheduling within the same week. I do not work directly with/accept or bill insurance. However, I am an out-of-network provider for most insurance carriers. Upon receipt of payment for therapy services, I provide clients with a "Superbill" that can be sent to their insurance carrier for reimbursement. Payment is due after each counseling session/veterinary social work service, and I accept all major credit cards and checks.
Rachel Wright, MSW, LICSW, VSW-CP (pictured with Cairn kitty)
Therapist & Veterinary Social Worker