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UNF and Nemours celebrate first animal-assisted therapy program certification ceremony

The University of North Florida and Nemours Group shot of the graduating practitioners, Ozzie, Dr. Carlene Taylor, Gypsy, and AsherChildren’s Specialty Clinic recently honored six UNF graduate students who received their graduate certificate in Animal-Assisted Therapy in Counseling. The UNF students are health practitioners with the Nemours Children’s Specialty Clinic ADAPT program, a partnership between UNF and Nemours.

UNF has partnered to provide training to these health practitioners as part of the pediatric health system’s Assisted Dog and Pony Therapy (ADAPT) program at Nemours. This program is the first of its kind in the U.S. to apply clinical animal-assisted therapy in a multispecialty pediatric medical environment.

At the certification ceremony, UNF’s mascot Ozzie the Osprey, along with Dr. Catherine Christie, associate dean of Brooks College of Health and Dr. Carlene Taylor, UNF professor of the ADAPT program, handed out program completion certificates and medals to the graduating practitioners and recognized representatives of the ADAPT program’s animal partners, Gypsy, an American Miniature Horse, and Asher, a Great Dane. 

The UNF-Nemours partnership will continue as a pilot patient therapy program, integrating registered therapy miniature horses and dogs with clinical providers harnessing the power of the human animal bond to help kids heal from physical, emotional and/or psychological illness or injuries.  The pilot program is scheduled to have equine therapy sessions one day per week and canine therapy sessions three days per week beginning in early 2021.

The ADAPT program will benefit young patients at the Nemours clinic by expanding the excellent mental and behavioral health services available and augment medical services to improve the patient care experience while helping to implement research studies to advance animal therapy work.

More information on UNF’s graduate Animal Assisted Therapy certification program can be found on the website.