Animal Assisted Therapy

Incorporating a Trained Animal into the Therapeutic Process
Dr. Hankes with therapy dogs Moose and Nessie

Moose and Nessie are sometimes available for outreach events on campus. If you are interested in scheduling Moose or Nessie for an event on campus, please call the counseling center at (334) 844-5123 to check for availability.  Request to speak with Dr. Hankes for scheduling opportunities.

Student Counseling & Psychological Services (SCPS) offers Animal Assisted Therapy services. Our first therapy dog, Moose, joined SCPS during the summer of 2015. Our second therapy dog, Nessie, joined SCPS during the summer of 2019. They are available to work with students by joining individual sessions, group sessions, and through campus outreach events. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions.

Get Mov’in with Moose and the Camp War Eagle Parent Run

During the Suumer 2021 Semester, join Dr. Moose or Dr. Nessie on Mondays at 7 am for “Get Mov’in with Moose”…..a 3-mile walk around the Auburn campus. You can find Dr. Moose or Dr. Nessie and a couple of their Student Counseling & Psychological Services handlers on the concourse outside the Student Center’s Starbucks. Drs. Moose and Nessie know that exercise positively affects mental health. When Drs. Moose and Nessie are mov’in, they are happy, happy dogs. 

Join us on the CWE Parent Run, a three-mile running tour of campus with other Auburn University faculty and staff members during each of the 10 Camp War Eagle sessions. Drs. Moose and Nessie also usually participate.

The run occurs on the morning of each Camp War Eagle session and starts at 6:00 am outside of the Melton Student Center on the Haley Center concourse in front of Starbucks.

What is Animal Assisted Therapy?

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a form of therapy that incorporates a trained animal into the therapeutic process. Student Counseling & Psychological Services offers AAT with two trained dogs, Moose and Nessie, who have met the certification standards of Therapy Dogs International. Moose and Nessie are handled by Student Counseling & Psychological Services counselors who have met the appropriate training. Participation in AAT may have many benefits, including improved motivation for treatment and improved social and emotional functioning.

How do I sign up to work with Moose or Nessie?

Moose and Nessie are available to join sessions for clients at SCPS. If you are interested in having Moose or Nessie join your counseling session, discuss this interest with your counselor. Together, you and your counselor can decide if adding Moose or Nessie to your sessions would be beneficial. You will be asked to sign a release before you can have Moose or Nessie join your counseling sessions. Students under the age of 19 will have to get this release signed by a parent or guardian.

How often can Moose or Nessie be in sessions?

If you and your counselor determine that AAT would be beneficial, Moose or Nessie will be able to join your sessions as they are available. Appointments with Moose and Nessie are booked in advance, but if they aren’t feeling well or are otherwise unavailable, they may not be able to join your session.
Moose and Nessie are rarely off leash at SCPS and are kept out of common areas like the lobby. Moose and Nessie sometimes spend time behind the front desk or in counselor’s offices, so please be aware you may see them as you check in or walk to your counselor’s office. If you have concerns about Moose or Nessie being at SCPS while you visit, please let our front office staff or your counselor know so we can make every effort to make your visit to SCPS comfortable.

Questions or concerns about AAT with Moose or Nessie?

Contact Dr. Hankes at (334) 844-5123.