Region Ten in Charlottesville is using man's best friend to calm nerves in Central Virginia. It is piloting an animal assisted therapy program, and hopes to expand the initiative to more of its locations.
The agency provides mental health services to adults all across the region including Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson counties. Its services are geared toward people with substance abuse and intellectual disabilities, but it also provides services for children.
Region Ten received a $4,000 grant from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation to start the animal assisted therapy program. The agency says people respond to animals in a positive way, which is why this new program will help put their clients at ease.
Conchita Moore is a Region Ten client and benefited from the program.
"It was very nice, very therapeutic. Very soothing," Moore said.
Marcia Becker is the Director of Rehabilitative Services at Region Ten. She says right now, there are three certified dogs in the program with four more expected to pass their training this month.
"People who would not normally open up all of a sudden become animated and talkative," Becker said.
The dogs belong to staff at Region Ten. The goal is to get more employees with pets involved so that the program can expand to other departments.
Jennifer Von Reuter joined the NBC29 news team in June 2009 as a general assignment reporter. Prior to joining NBC29, Jennifer worked as an anchor and reporter for WHAG-TV in Hagerstown, MD. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story