Therapaws: A partnership between students, staff, and therapy dogs on a university campus

  • Rebecca Johinke University of Sydney
  • Karen Walker Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Student Affairs and Engagement, University of Sydney
  • Freia Kirkaldy Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Student Affairs and Engagement, University of Sydney
  • Caitlyn Sinclair Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Student Affairs and Engagement, University of Sydney
  • Wing Lam Cheng Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Student Affairs and Engagement, University of Sydney
  • Brian Tran Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Student Affairs and Engagement, University of Sydney
  • Emerald Williamson Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Student Affairs and Engagement, University of Sydney
  • Grace White Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Student Affairs and Engagement, University of Sydney
  • Sara Sri Pillai Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Student Affairs and Engagement, University of Sydney
Keywords: students as partners, dog therapy, student wellbeing, student mental health

Abstract

Partnering with students in action research and asking them how and why they would like to work with staff and other students to improve campus culture and student wellbeing is the cornerstone of this case study. Investment in student mental health and wellbeing is increasingly recognised as a priority in higher education, with novel approaches such as dog therapy programs being introduced in universities around the world. This case study highlights a project where staff and students partner to co-design, co-implement, and co-investigate a mental health and wellbeing program that combines dog therapy with students-as-partners principles. The student-led dog therapy program (Therapaws) provides a practical, evidence-based example of how the principles of SaP can be employed to create an effective intervention into student mental health and wellbeing. This multi-authored case study is also an example of a collaborative writing process—a true partnership.

References

REFERENCES

Ahmad, A., Ali, A., VanMaaren, J., Barrington, J., Merritt, O., & Ansillio, K. Partnerships in Practice: Implementing Healey’s Conceptual Model. International Journal for Students as Partners. 1.2 (2017). https://mulpress.mcmaster.ca/ijsap/article/view/3197

Auerbach, R. P., Alonso, J., Axinn, W. G., Cuijpers, P., Ebert, D. D., Green, J. G., Bruffaerts, R. (2016). Mental disorders among college students in the world health organization world mental health surveys. Psychological Medicine, 46(14), 2955-2970. doi: 10.1017/S0033291716001665

Cohen, S., Kamarck, T. & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 386-396.

Daltry, R.M. & Mehr, K.E. (2015). Therapy dogs on campus: Recommendations for Counselling Centre Outreach. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 29(1), 72-78. doi: 10.1080/87568225.2015.976100

Ede, L., & Lunsford, A. (1990). Singular texts/plural authors: Perspectives on collaborative writing. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney. (2017). Graduate qualities. Retrieved from http://sydney.edu.au/arts/teaching_learning/academic_support/graduate_qualities.shtml

Healey, M., Flint, A. & Harrington, K. (2014). Engagement through partnership: students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. York: Higher Education Academy. Retrieved from https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/resources/engagement_through_partnership.pdf

Healey, M., & Jenkins, A. (2009). Developing undergraduate research and inquiry [Internet] York: Higher Education Academy. Available from: www.heaacademy.ac.uk/assets/York/documents/resources/publications/DevelopingUndergraduate_Final.pdf.

Holland, D. (2016). College student stress and mental health: Examination of stigmatic views on mental health counselling. Michigan Sociological Review, 30, 16-43.

Lovell, G.P., Nash, K., Sharman, R. & Lane, R.B. (2015). A cross-sectional investigation of depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms and health-behaviour participation in Australian university students. Nursing and Health Sciences, 17, 134-142. doi: 10.1111/nhs.12147

Matthews, K.E. (2017). Five propositions for Genuine Students as Partners Practice. International Journal for Students as Partners. 1(2), 1-9. doi: 10.15173/ijsap.v1i2.3315

McDonald, S., McDonald, E., & Roberts, A. (2017). Effects of novel dog exposure on college students' stress prior to examination. North American Journal of Psychology, 19(2), 477-484.

Mercer-Mapstone, L., Dvorakova, S. L., Matthews, K., Abbot, S., Cheng, B., Felten, P., Knorr, K., Marquis, E., Shammas, R., & Swaim, K. (2017). A Systematic Literature Review of Students as Partners in Higher Education. International Journal for Students as Partners, 1(1), 1-23. doi: 10.15173/ijsap.v1i1.3119

Muckle, J. & Lasikiewicz, N. (2017). An exploration of the benefits of animal-assisted activities in undergraduate students in Singapore. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 20, 75-84. doi: 10.1111/ajsp.12166

Quinn, N., Wilson, A., MacIntyre, G. & Tinklin, T. (2009). ‘People look at you differently’: students’ experience of mental health support within Higher Education. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 37(4), 405-418, doi: 10.1080/03069880903161385

Robotham, D. & Julian C. (2006). Stress and the higher education student: a critical review of the literature. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 30(2), 107-117. doi: 10.1080/03098770600617513

Stallman, H.M. (2010). Psychological distress in university students: A comparison with general population data, Australian Psychologist, 40(4), 249-257. doi: 10.1080/00050067.2010.482109

Veness, B. G. (2016). The Wicked Problem of University Student Mental Health. Report to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. Sydney, Australia.

Ward-Griffin, E., Klaiber, P., Collins, H.K., Owens, R.L., Coren, S. & Chen., F.S. (2018). Petting away pre-exam stress: The effect of therapy dog sessions on student well-being. Stress and Health, 1-6. doi: 10.1002/smi.2804

Yorgason, J.B., Linville, D., & Zitzman, B. (2008). Mental health among college students: Do those who need services know about and use them? Journal of American College Health, 57(2), 173-81.

Published
2018-12-04
How to Cite
Johinke, R., Walker, K., Kirkaldy, F., Sinclair, C., Cheng, W. L., Tran, B., Williamson, E., White, G., & Pillai, S. S. (2018). Therapaws: A partnership between students, staff, and therapy dogs on a university campus. International Journal for Students As Partners, 2(2), 96-105. https://doi.org/10.15173/ijsap.v2i2.3575
Section
Case Studies