Samantha is a Psychologist and clinic director at Psychology & Animal Assisted Wellbeing. Sam works with canines to provide Animal Assisted Therapy for children, adolescents & adults. Samantha has experience working with therapy dogs across various settings, including schools, community mental health and private practice since 2013. With a strong background in canine socialization & training, Samantha is able to provide a wealth of information on working with dogs in therapy in a safe and ethical manner. Having also begun her training in multi-species animal assisted psychotherapy, her passion, experience and knowledge of the subject situates her at the forefront of this exciting new field in Australia. Samantha has spoken as several conferences on AAT topics, including the 50th Australian Psychological Conference in October 2015 and the Australia & New Zealand Psychiatrists Conference in Hobart in 2016. Samantha is also involved in providing Equine Assisted Psychotherapy under the EAGALA model.
Samantha first became involved in Dog Training when she met her Labrador - Sonny Banana - as a puppy. Through attending group training courses she fell in love with training and the relationship that is formed throughout the process. Of course, mistakes were made, and learned from! Samantha has been casually involved in dog sports such as tracking, dock diving and sheep herding. She has attended group training across multiple organisations, including Urban Dog Training; Positive Response Dog Training; All Paws Paradise; Team Work Dogs & Pine Rivers Dog Club. Having also attended the 5-day Therapy Dog Training Course through Lead The Way on two occasions and training 4 of her own dogs, Samantha has now become involved in Therapeutic Dog Training with clients and their dogs. The aim of this is to create a space where canine and human can build a strong bond based on trust and clear communication. Samantha completed the ACP Dog Trainers Course in July 2016 to further her dog training skill set. She is also currently enrolled in and completing a Certificate II in Animal Assisted Psychotherapy.
Samantha is the President and co-Founder of Project P.A.W.S. a not-for-profit group which advocates for the welfare and wellbeing of all animals in their relationships with humans. One of their initiatives is the Queenslanders Against Dog Theft movement. To find out more about Project P.A.W.S. click here.
Jess is a Paediatric Occupational Therapist with extensive experience in working with children on the Autism Spectrum. Jess works with her canine-assistant, Cavoodle - Raphael, to engage and motivate clients to participate in OT activities such as fine and gross motor skills, pretend play and social skills. Jess currently works with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, as well as children recovering from brain injury at a private practice in Ormiston, Queensland.
Jess first became interested in Animal Assisted Therapy when purchasing a puppy (male Labrador named Sam) for her then 11-year-old brother (Alex) diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Attending training with Sam and Alex she was able to witness the amazing impact Sam had in assisting Alex to interact with others, as well as reducing his social anxiety when out in public and increasing his overall self-esteem. After meeting Samantha and Sonny and observing the amazing wok that they do, Jess knew that combining AAT with OT was the path that she wanted to take.
Jess met her first therapy dog Raphael at ten weeks of age, and Elsa at 8 weeks. Jess has trained with IntaDOGZ and Pine Rivers Dog Club, as well as completing the 5-day Therapy Dog Training Course at Lead the Way. Jess is continued to develop her skill set in dog training and animal assisted therapy by attending the ACP Dog Trainers Course in July 2016, as well as the Level 1 AAPT course in April 2016.