All programs are currently led by the founder, Sarah Deering (NLC 106143). She was born and raised in Denver, CO. During the hardest times in her life, she found her relationships with animals to be what offered the most comfort, and that her dogs seemed to always know exactly what she needed to learn. It was these experiences that encouraged her to pursue a further understanding of the human-animal bond. Sarah graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, minoring in Psychology. She later studied at the University of Denver, receiving a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology in 2015 with concentrations in clinical mental health, animal-assisted therapy (AAT), the human-animal bond (HAB), and addictions counseling. Integrating animals into her therapeutic practice from the very beginning, Sarah was excited to see AAT taking root and gaining more and more attention within the field of Psychotherapy.
Throughout her formal education, Sarah fostered 100+ dogs to find their furever homes. In this, she saw distinct similarities between humans and dogs recovering from traumatic experiences. As Foster Coordinator for the rescue, she developed a canine training program to help these dogs regulate from their past experiences so they could stabilize more readily in their new homes. Sarah simultaneously developed a passion for working with youth and teens in overcoming trauma and after studying with and interning at Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado, she moved to Florida to bring AAT into group homes for youth.
While there, she and her rescue dogs provided crisis relief services at a stabilizing home for children who were just removed from their caregivers, social skills groups at low-income schools, and comprehensive individual and group services for sexually reactive boys and girls at the STGC level. She was quickly amazed to witness the miracles this work was creating and the dramatic effects it was having. Be sure to check out our blogs for more on that! Although life brought her back to Colorado, she desperately wanted to continue this work, and so Working Together Pet Programs was born.
What kind(s) of animals will I be working with?Sarah currently partners with her two rescue dogs, Jude and Farrah, along with your pet and other animals as opportunities present themselves. The PACK Program will primarily incorporate your own pet(s), be them cats, dogs, bunnies, hamsters, horses, goats, lizards, birds,... you name it. Sarah has worked with almost any domestic animal you can think of!
What’s the difference between WTPP and therapy or AAT?AAT is a goal-directed and client-centered approach to psychotherapy. Most current models involve licensed mental health professionals partnering with their own or their agency’s animal(s) in working with clients. At WTPP, goals are reached through cultivating relationships with animals. Sarah has a Master's in Counseling and is registered with the State of Colorado through DORA to practice psychotherapy (NLC106143), but your work will not feel like therapy. In the PACK Program, you will be addressing your own pet’s needs with some visits from Sarah’s rescue dogs where fitting. Our group programs are modeled around evidenced-based approaches, such as TF-CBT, incorporating tested AAT interventions to amplify the positive impacts.
What are the benefits of working with animals?
Research has proven that practicing responsible pet ownership lowers pet owners’ blood pressure, encourages an overall healthy lifestyle, and promotes self-care. Psychologically, spending time with your or another’s pet reduces stress and increases self-esteem. Further studies indicate significant improvements in self-discipline, kindness, compassion, empathy, responsibility, and more. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun!