Students undergoing training in animal assisted therapy tell us about their experiences

The Canis Majoris Foundation Healthcare Department has three psychology students who are complementing their education through the work training placement scheme in the animal assisted therapy (AAT) program.

Leticia, Elena and Mayte, tell us firsthand how they are undergoing their practical experience and what it has meant for them. Here’s what they share with us.


“Leticia Sobrino con Mía”

Leticia Sobrino is a  psychology student at the Rey Juan Carlos I University where she heard about  the internship program thanks to an educational collaboration agreement that the University has signed with the Foundation:  “Entering the internship program has provided me with additional  knowledge to my studies, It has  taught me another way of applying the focus more on the stimulation and enjoyment of users during the therapy session with animals and everything that can be learned at a personal level by giving me a different, more open minded approach to the  relationship with people with disabilities and their relationships with animals”.

Have you fulfilled the expectations?

My expectations were to learn good work practices beyond what the degree has taught me, and this has been the case  thanks to the team of people who make up the Healthcare Department. My experience with the team has been outstanding, for all they have taught me during the sessions and all the doubts that have been resolved as I’ve progressed during the AAT therapy sessions. As for animal therapy, what has caught my attention the most is the dog’s ability to work and learn during training sessions. Thanks to them I have learned what is the best way to train, how to participate in their learning and how to act in the AAT sessions.


“Elena Marchese con Mapa”

Elena Marchese is a Psychology student at the National Distance Learning University (UNED). She commenced her  AAT training in December and ends on Friday, February 23: “I consider the activity of the foundation as essential in helping to improve the quality of life of the most vulnerable groups. Collaborating  with the animals in this way is an experience that I find very enriching. Sharing these last months with the whole healthcare team and the technical staff at the centers and users has made all of this an exceptional experience.”

Have you fulfilled the expectations you had before?

Despite having initial doubts regarding the mid to long term benefits that users could gain, I noticed the expressions on their faces, their efforts to try to pet the dogs, their kind words and overcoming fears during the course of the sessions, among many other benefits, this therapy deserves to be extended to more schools and groups. I have seen the importance of developing fundamental skills such as empathy, observation skills, patience, respect, creativity, assertiveness and confidence.

My relationship with the team of therapists has been close and open because they have made me feel like a contributor in all their  daily tasks and they’ve given me confidence to ask all the questions and curiosities that have come up throughout the sessions. During these months I have been part of the team. Finally, of course I wish to mention the dog  team … And what a team! Each one with its characteristics that make it unique and special. The progress achieved in users, with full confidence, their love and their way of communicating is worthy of admiration.


“Mayte del Real con Mía”

Mayte Real has completed her studies of psychology at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Alcorcón,  She has spent six weeks in the program and still has another eight weeks to go. She was encouraged to enter the program from the good references that she was given by former trainees: “I consider that these practices give you an opportunity to learn about another branch of psychology that is not provided in the degree. In addition, putting this into practice makes you reconsider your professional future very seriously.. Observing how AAT is applied is very rewarding and personally fulfilling, enabling you to improve at a personal level. Learning about the extent of functional diversity of the users, the kindness they have in their behavior and how they appreciate and value what they have, makes you rethink the way you view the world around you. It is without a doubt, a highly recommended experience. “

Have you fulfilled the expectations you had before?

Completely. At first, my expectations were not very high in relation to external practices but connecting with a foundation like this, with its own values, the efforts they make to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities and how to transmit all of this to trainees, I think is something admirable.

The group of therapists who make up the Foundation, make you feel at home as soon as you arrive. They are great professionals who do their work with enthusiasm and excitement and this conveys that same energy, which is transmitted to students when teaching them the work they will carry out.

The Foundation’s animals make the therapies unique as they are the fundamental tool. Their training and how they complement each other, is spectacular. There is always one with which you can get the best results for each specific group. The Foundation also has two raptors as therapy animals and aims to include them in the mid term.

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