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Animal-Related Grief & Bereavement

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This module is available for purchase year round. This module is a part of the Veterinary Social Work Certificate. Though it is a part of the certificate, you can purchase and complete this course even if you are not enrolled.

Online Module

Animal Related Bereavement: Implications for Social Work Practice

This self-paced online module is directed towards mental health professionals.   Animal related grief and bereavement is a real form of loss.  Many health professionals miss the intensity of the loss as well as the opportunity for healing that resides in the special bereavement process. This certificate provides education, training, and experience in helping people through this form of loss through didactic and experiential means.  The online module is a pre-requisite to the face to face workshop.

Through this online module students will be able to:

  • Identify special considerations regarding the loss of an animal.
  • Identify and discuss grief experiences for special populations.
  • Identify at least 3 evidence-based treatment interventions for animal loss.
  • Identify at least 5 rituals or ways to memorialize after an animal’s death.

“This program is Approved by the National Association of Social Workers (Approval # 886617824-1216) for 14.5 continuing education contact hours.”


Sarina is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in TN and NC, and Adjunct Professor with the University of Tennessee College of Social Work.

Sarina previously worked at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine for 10 years as one of the clinical social workers who provided grief support and crisis intervention to clients of the Small and Large Animal Hospitals and members of the community, provided counseling to UTCVM students and House Officers, and oversaw the communication training for UTCVM’s veterinary medical students.

She has moved to NC with her family and now owns a private practice where she continues to provide Veterinary Social Work services.  Specifically she offers grief counseling for the loss of an animal, counseling to animal care professionals to help manage compassion fatigue, and consultation to the community for animal related issues.

She graduated from High Point University in High Point, NC with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Tennessee.

In her free time, Sarina enjoys running and exercising, reading, spending time with her family, and she has recently started to enjoy planting and growing flowers.  Sarina’s fur-family members include their 16 year-old cat, Jasper and their 6 year-old Shepherd-mix, Finn.

Katherine Goldberg, DVM, MSW

Katherine earned her DVM from Cornell in 2004, completed a rotating small animal internship and continued along the emergency/critical care path, ultimately returning to Cornell as an instructor in emergency/critical care in 2006. While in the ICU she developed an interest in the ethics of intensive care for animals, the impact of critical illness on family dynamics, as well as palliative medicine & hospice care. She then spent 3 years in general practice, providing client consultation on palliative medicine options, death & dying, as well as in-home euthanasia services, before exclusively dedicating herself to family centered end of life care.

She became a trained volunteer for Hospicare & Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County in Fall 2009, and founded her practice Whole Animal Veterinary Geriatrics & Hospice Services in 2010. Whole Animal is one of the only practices in the country exclusively dedicated to this area of care that is not focused primarily on mobile euthanasia services. She is currently a member of Hospicare’s Ethics Committee & is dedicated to exploring the connection between hospice services for people and animals.

Katherine has a courtesy lecturer appointment at Cornell and has significantly increased student exposure to end of life topics since 2012. In addition to end of life material within the core curriculum, her course, “Gerontology, Hospice & Palliative Medicine for Veterinarians” was first offered in 2015. She is trained in the Serious Illness Communication Guide developed by the palliative medicine teams at Harvard Medical School & the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and is currently pursuing her Masters of Social Work at Syracuse University. At Syracuse, she is part of the team developing a certificate of advanced study in Human-Animal Interactions for the BSW and MSW programs.

She is co-founder of the Veterinary Society for Hospice and Palliative Care – the only hospice organization exclusively dedicated to veterinarians. Katherine is dedicated to the development of an AVMA/ABVS-recognized veterinary specialty in Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

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