2018 The Human-Animal Bond And Direct Social Work Practice

TUESDAY, August 7, 2018 | 6:00-9:00 p.m.

NYU Silver School of Social Work
1 Washington Square North
New York, NY 10003

NYSED and ACE Approved for 3 CE contact hours

This event is a part of the Office of Global and Lifelong Learning's Spring 2018 Seminar Series.

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The human-animal bond is a dynamic relationship between people and the animals they care for. The human-animal bond crosses all demographics - people of every race, culture, gender and socioeconomic status share their lives with companion animals. Studies show a multitude of physical, emotional and mental health benefits for pet guardians. But what happens when those people are in crisis? This seminar is an overview of direct social work interventions that involve the human-animal bond. The session will begin with the history and benefits of the human-animal bond. We will then discuss topics such as disaster relief, domestic violence, homelessness, BSL, animal hording. Finally, we will consider therapeutic applications such as animal assisted therapy, psychiatric service dogs and grief counseling for pet loss. Attendees will gain direct knowledge of the special needs of people with pets. The seminar will conclude with concrete resources and ideas for future social work involving the human-animal bond.

Learning Objectives


  • Gain knowledge on the history of the Human-Animal Bond in relation to social work practice.
  • Identify the various areas of social work that involve the Human-Animal Bond, and how they apply to practitioner experience.
  • Understand how to help people in need who care for animals who may be working with current clinicians.


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Katherine Compitus, LCSW, MSEd, MA

Katherine Compitus is a licensed social worker and a doctoral candidate at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work. Her research focuses primarily on "applied anthrozoology" (the study of human-animal interactions) and pediatric mental health. She is especially interested in crisis intervention and working with trauma survivors; she is a Certified Family Trauma Therapist and trained in EMDR. Katherine is also the founder and chairman of Surrey Hills Sanctuary, a non-profit organization providing social work services for people and their pets. Katherine has a MSW from NYU, a MSEd from Hunter College and an MA in Animal Behavior from Hunter College. She is currently an adjunct instructor at both NYU and Columbia University. Katherine has worked in social work involving the human animal bond for many years; her previous work includes animal assisted therapy with pediatric patients at the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases and working as a grief counselor for pet loss at the Animal Medical Center.