Think back to Spring 2017. Do you recall what you might have been doing? Perhaps, you were finishing school, getting married, adopting a pet, having your first child, or merely living your best life!
2017 marked the beginning of a very exciting venture for me. While enrolled in a master’s-level crisis intervention course, I was challenged to complete a thorough review of the literature to identify research gaps that could help facilitate counseling practices. Throughout my experiences in formal education, I have always possessed a unique interest in studying and researching the human-animal bond. I attribute much of this interest to my undergraduate internship and subsequent volunteer experiences at Susquehanna Service Dogs. These experiences, coupled with my interest in the human-animal bond, aided in the development of a research project that explored courthouse facility dogs as a crisis intervention strategy for survivors of intimate partner violence.
Findings from the Literature Review: Occurring at alarmingly high rates, individuals subject to intimate partner violence can experience an initial crisis upon victimization and a secondary crisis while offering testimony in court. Animal-assisted interventions, such as the incorporation of courthouse facility dogs during victim testimony, have gained traction as a viable approach to mitigating symptoms of anxiety, distress, fear, etc. Under guidelines for best practice, courthouse facility dogs are those that have received intensive training through accredited service dog organizations. Their primary function is to alleviate distress and promote a sense of calm among individuals needing to testify in court. In 2017, literature related to courthouse facility dogs demonstrated that they have been primarily incorporated as a crisis mitigation strategy for youth who have endured abuse. My research thereby identified a gap, wherein the use and benefits/drawbacks of this animal-assisted crisis intervention strategy for adult survivors of intimate partner violence were unknown (Kelly, 2020).
As I progressed through this assignment, my professor encouraged students, like myself, to consider publication and/or formal presentation of their work. With a prideful finished product, I entertained these suggestions and submitted applications to three conferences to present on the topic of courthouse facility dogs as a crisis intervention strategy for survivors of intimate partner violence. Overwhelming acceptance from all three conference committees afforded me with the opportunities to present this research at the 2018 New Jersey Counseling Association Conference, 8th Annual Chi Sigma Iota Pennsylvania Statewide Conference, as well as the American Counseling Association 2018 Conference and Expo. These experiences undoubtedly developed the foundation for my career, broadened my professional interests, and boosted my confidence.
Fast forward to 2019. Successful completion and presentation of my work thus far fostered a sense of believability that it was indeed publishable material. With the assistance of strict accountability and goal-driven behaviors, I committed to submitting my paper to the Journal of Creativity in Mental Health in October 2019. After submission, I distinctly recall having fleeting moments of self-doubt as I anticipated feedback from the first review; however I made a diligent effort to refocus my attention toward opportunity and possibility as opposed to denial and despair. Undoubtedly, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to delays in peer reviewing, and it was not until April 2020 when I finally received confirmation that, with edits, my paper would be accepted into the scholarly journal! Peer reviewing is an evaluative process that ultimately ensures the material is quality and credible, and with a few back-and-forth interactions, my paper was officially accepted in September 2020. I proudly accepted each constructive comment, made the necessary edits, and navigated my way through completing copyright documents. Exactly one year after submitting my manuscript with eyes set on a hopeful future, it was accepted. With that, I am very happy and proud to announce that I am officially a published author as of October 2020!
Although I purposefully kept this endeavor very private, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to those who directly and indirectly supported me in attaining this goal:
- Alex – For literally everything…reading my drafts, processing my frustrations, and celebrating the victories!
- Dr. Shirley – Thank you for creating this assignment, nudging me outside of my comfort zone, believing in my ability to succeed, and offering never-ending encouragement and mentorship!
- Kory – Without your accountability, I might still be procrastinating on this goal!
- Pam – Thank you for taking me under your wing at Susquehanna Service Dogs, believing in my goals, and teaching me all about the assistance dogs community!
- Pinella – For always being a source of inspiration, your patience as I put in long hours at the computer, and the puppy snuggles you offer after a hard day’s work!
If you’re interested in reading or learning more, I’ve included a link to the published paper here. If you have questions or would like to read the full version of the paper, please feel free to contact me through my linked social media outlets or the Sit, Stay, Blog contact page!
The full paper citation is also referenced here:
Kelly, T. (2020). Courthouse facility dogs: An intervention for survivors of intimate partner violence. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health. https://doi.org/10.1080/15401383.2020.1828214
Hey podcast listeners: Listen to Neurolawgical’s recent podcast episode about this publication here.