Therapy dogs assist students in de-stressing amidst testing season

With UC Davis’ rapidly moving quarter system, students find little to no time to de-stress after midterms with finals week knocking soon after.

The Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Stress and Wellness Ambassador Program and Mind Spa aims to make testing season in the minds of students more bearable with their annual Therapy Fluffies De-Stress event, that took place Nov. 15 at the Memorial Union.

The free event took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and showcased a variety of breeds that were available for students to play with and pet.

Junior psychology major and Stress and Wellness and Mind Spa Ambassador Christina Lee said, “Most of the dogs at the event are from the SPCA. We will have another Therapy Fluffies next quarter, and again in Spring quarter.”

Most dogs at the event are up for adoption from the Yolo County SPCA and are trained therapy animals by the Independent Therapy Dogs Inc.,

The dogs that will be at UC Davis come from both the Yolo County SPCA and Independent Therapy Dogs Inc., a registered therapy dog organization.

“Therapy dogs can decrease stress through providing unconditional companionship, getting us out interacting with other people who like dogs, and being so affectionate that it’s nearly impossible to stay in a bad mood,” said Dorje M. Jennette,  a CAPS psychologist.

Jennette said that according to a 2010 study done by the American College Health Association, more than 35 percent of students indicate that stress hurt their academics, and nearly all UC Davis students indicate they felt overwhelmed or exhausted at one point during the school year.

The event idea was created by Dr. Sean Cook at UC San Diego and was brought to UC Davis by him, during a brainstorming session after he came to work at CAPS.

In an interview in a 2009 article by R. Stickney in NBC San Diego, Jerry Phelps, Ph.D., director of Wellness Initiatives for UC Student Wellness explained the effects of therapy animals on the body. Phelps said it has been proven that they reduce blood pressure and heart rate.

“It allows the students to connect with another living being,” Phelps said. “A lot of students actually don’t have someone that they can touch. The physical touch actually reduces the stress.”

Therapy animals have been used to foster motivation and to aid in educational learning, according  to a statement released by CAPS.

“The benefits of petting and interacting with an animal have been shown to improve communication, elevate self-confidence and improve quality of life,” stated the press release.

For more information on next quarter’s Therapy Fluffies event or  to get involved with Therapy Fluffies or the Mind Spa, visit the
 CAPS Clinic at the Student Health and Wellness Center.

MUNA SADEK can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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