Pilar Sosa del Cerro, currently studying in the National Distance University (UNED) for the last two subjects to finish her Degree in Psychology: Tutored Practices and End of Degree Project. Her period of professional practices has been a total of 180 hours, spread over two months. Throughout this interview, she tells us about her experience as a trainee:
What did the practices in the Department of Social Intervention of the Canis Majoris Foundation imply for you?
At a professional level, joining a team, where contact with animals and the human level is essential. Learning first hand the techniques of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) and its effects on users affected by brain damage or mental disorder.
On a personal level, I believe that it improves social skills, empathy, learning about other human’s realities, establishing links with animals such as dogs, hawks and horses, and getting to know more about their behavior and care.
Have your expectations been met?
My expectations have been met in terms of gaining knowledge of the techniques of animal assisted therapy on people with functional diversity along with the entire organizational framework behind them. Perhaps, as a future psychologist I would have liked to delve deeper into the different diagnoses of the users, user selection criteria, the effects of AAT in the different diagnoses, to know if there has been any follow-up of the users to evaluate the benefits of AAT, as well as establishing a closer contact with the psychologists of the centers. But I understand that all of this does not form part of the internship plan.
How has the experience with the Social Intervention team been?
The technical team of the Foundation is very professional, and as teachers, they are excellent. They have always managed to communicate and explain the content of the professional work, and I have felt very supported and comfortable.
And the experience with the therapy animals?
I really like animals in general, and dogs in particular. I have some notions of canine education and it has not been difficult for me to connect with the therapy dogs. I have established a link with them, perhaps more with Amazon, which is the one I have had the most opportunity to work with.
How did you hear about the Canis Majoris Foundation?
I got to know about the Foundation through the National University of Distance Education (UNED), with which the Foundation has established an agreement for stays of interns.
What opinion do you have about the activities that take place in the Foundation?
I have been able to stay informed of all the activities that the Canis Majoris Foundation carries out, through the FCM website. The activities are always in favor of people with functional diversity. Among these activities are; research, granting scholarships, courses, conferences, seminars, webinars … My opinion is therefore very positive, given that they perform such a commendable job.