Concurrent MSSW/VSW Graduate
After graduating from UT with her MSSW and VSW certificate, Sonya began working on her PhD in counseling psychology (August 2018) at Florida State. She is working on a research team that investigates various aspects of childhood trauma, including bullying. Her personal primary research interests are childhood trauma, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and also the potential benefits of animal-assisted therapy for adolescents with histories of trauma or ACEs. Throughout her program, she plans to continue conducting research on these topics.
Last year, Sonya became an active member of the Section on Human Animal Interaction (HAI) of Division 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology) of the American Psychological Association and serves as a member of the HAI students interest committee. Her duties include reviewing and editing abstracts of upcoming publications of the HAI newsletter and publishing these online. She is also working to develop a HAI mentorship matching program, which will match students or new professionals with professionals conducting research and practicing within the field of HAI.
After she completes her PhD, she would like to become licensed as a psychologist and perhaps start a program partnering high school-aged adolescents who have experienced trauma with hard-to-adopt shelter dogs. Through the program, clients would be able to receive counseling and take part in dog training and socialization. Sonya hopes to create partnerships with schools in her community so that the program can be integrated within public or alternative schools. She would also like to work in academia, researching and teaching about ACEs and the human-animal bond. Sonya is also looking into becoming involved in Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare's Animal Therapy Program, possibly as a volunteer and is looking to see if she could complete one of her practica there for her PhD.