A child’s ability to learn and grow begins with emotional well-being. In the school environment, there may be any range of scenarios where stabilizing is required before the learning can begin. This is where a therapy dog can be a key contributor to the success stories, where occupational, speech, or physical therapy services are needed. As part of early intervention or postvention situations, trained dogs are working to bring the pack to homeostasis and readying the classroom and students to thrive. Dr. Tracy Geist, social worker at Capital Area Intermediate Unit, joins the podcast to share insights about the role of therapy dogs as part of pediatric therapy services and early intervention.

Skip to: 00:45 How integral is emotional wellbeing to a childs ability to learn?
Skip to: 02:13 How does having a dog present impact or contribute to a person’s wellbeing?

Dogs come into our lives and as a pack animal, we become their pack.

Skip to: 11:34 Postvention treatment scenarios

Dogs are really efficient and effective in getting the help needed quicker.

Skip to: 19:19 Suggestions for school districts looking to introduce therapy dogs

Tracy Geist, Ph.D, social worker at Capital Area Intermediate Unit

Dr. Tracy Geist is a licensed professional counselor and has been a school social worker with the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) since 2002. Along with her caseload, Tracy is the founder of the CAIU therapy dog program. Prior to joining the CAIU she worked as a Supervisor for the Children’s Case Management Unit, Director of the Dauphin County Student Assistance Program, and as a Family Based Therapist for Keystone Children and Family Services. Tracy has also taught as an adjunct Professor for Widener University and Messiah College.

Tracy is emerging as an expert in the field of animal assisted therapy and has presented at the National Conference on Advancing School Mental Health, in Alexandria VA, hosted by the Center for School Mental Health (CSMH) and the IDEA Partnership (funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), sponsored by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education) as well as the Animal-Assisted Interventions International conference in Denver.

A prodigious yet discerning coffee drinker, Tracy’s family hails from West Virginia. Tracy resides in Dillsburg PA with her husband Ken, her canine co-therapist Stuart, and other various animals. You can often see the Geist family exploring the town in their vintage VW camper van.