Therapy Dogs Are Helping Incarcerated Mothers in Westchester

Pace University leads the way with a new animal-based therapy program for incarerated mothers.

 

Following the remarkable success of animal-assisted therapy (AAT), therapy dogs are now helping incarcerated mothers in Westchester hone their parenting skills while learning to deal with feelings such as fear, guilt, depression, and trauma.

Parenting, Prison & Pups (PPP) is a two-year research partnership — the first of its kind anywhere — between Pace University’s Dyson College, Department of Criminal Justice; The Good Dog Foundation, a nonprofit that trains and certifies therapy-dog teams and provides AAT; the Metropolitan Correctional Center, under the Federal Bureau of Prisons; and the Westchester County Department of Correction (WCDOC). While animal-based programs have been used by correctional institutions before, PPP is the first to employ a structured curriculum.

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“The [PPP] program is a way for us to reach women and help them become better parents for their children,” says PPP director Kimberly Collica-Cox, PhD. “What we are really looking to do is to stop the cycle of intergenerational incarceration, and we believe that this program can help achieve that.”

Animal-assisted WCDOC classes are scheduled to begin in September 2018.

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