Postgraduate VSW Certificate Program Graduate
My career as a social worker has put me on an exciting and varied clinical path beginning over thirty years ago. After receiving specialized training in family systems therapy I worked for the US Air Force dealing with families referred for issues related to domestic violence and child abuse. I then worked for the VA on a specialized clinical team helping service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan deal with combat PTSD. The work was very rewarding but some days extremely draining. At this time I reached a turning point and needed to find a way to get my balance. I needed to become grounded and feel passionate about my work again. The one thing I knew with certainty, was that my dogs shifted my energy from stress to calm just by being in the same room! I started exploring options for how to incorporate my love of animals into my work… and revitalize my professional vision.
As I began my studies with UT Veterinary Social Work Program I realized I was on the right path. I didn't want to start over… I just wanted to enhance all of my clinical experience from the last three decades. I realized I could help veterinary staff with compassion fatigue and assist owners who were grieving the loss of their beloved pet. I could help mediate in veterinary clinics where conflict arose and help veterinarians and clients develop healthy resolutions to problems. I developed better insight into the direct link between human and animal abuse and through my service learning at the American Red Cross, I discovered first hand how animals heal humans through various animal assisted interventions. My hope is to create a therapeutic animal ranch utilizing all of the education from the VSW program combined with my past clinical experience. Veterinary Social Work has widened my professional scope. It's provided me with more resilience and put the passion back into my compassion. I'm looking forward to the journey and can't wait to see where this new road takes me.
- BS Michigan State University '83
- MSW Loyola University of Chicago '89
- Institute for Juvenile Research University of IL Chicago '94
Rhonda currently resides in New Mexico with her husband, four donkeys and three dogs.