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Laura McCarty, MSW ’15, Animal-Assisted Social Work Certificate

Developing animal-assisted interventions as a school social worker

Laura McCarty

After she received her bachelor of social work degree, Laura McCarty wasn’t quite sure where her social work career would lead. Then she learned about the opportunity to work with animals in an educational environment, and she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

McCarty enrolled at the Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) Denver Campus MSW Program [link to 1.1.1], which offers an Animal-Assisted Social Work certificate [link to 1.1.1.10]. Today she’s a school social worker at Castle Rock Middle School, where she works alongside her certified therapy dog, Duran.

McCarty assesses and supports services for students’ individual education plans, facilitates students’ social–emotional skill development through individual and group interventions, provides crisis management support and advocates for the needs of families and students.

“My role allows me to work with many systems and collaborate with parents, administrators, teachers, community organizations and amazing students every day,” says McCarty. She implemented an animal-assisted intervention program within her school that positively impacts staff as well as students. McCarty also helped to establish policies and guidelines for animal-assisted interventions in the Douglas County School District.

“The support I received from my professors and my internship supervisor allowed me to prepare for a career as a school social worker,” McCarty says. “I came into the program with pretty specific goals of working in schools with a therapy dog, and they helped me gain the education, connection and experience for my current role.”

“The support I received from my professors and my internship supervisor allowed me to prepare for a career as a school social worker. I came into the program with pretty specific goals of working in schools with a therapy dog, and they helped me gain the education, connection and experience for my current role.” — Laura McCarty, MSW ’15, Animal-Assisted Social Work Certificate ’15, School Social Worker, Castle Rock Middle School