Supporting the human-animal bond between people and their animals. Animals who are family members, confidantes, partners, and best friends. When these bonds are tested by illness, behavior problems, injury, or death, we are here to help you.
At NC State’s VHC, the veterinary social worker is a mental health professional whose job is to help you find solutions to the issues arising during the course of your animal’s medical treatment. Our veterinary social worker is a licensed clinical social worker whose specialties include human-animal relationships, traumatic loss, and grief counseling. While social workers have been working in health care since the beginning of the 20th century, the integration of social workers in veterinary medicine is a relatively recent development. The VHC is one of only a handful of veterinary facilities in the country to include a social worker on the veterinary medical team with the goal of providing family-centered care.
What can Family & Community Services do for you?
Navigating a large medical system can be overwhelming, especially when you are advocating for a loved one who can’t tell you what is wrong. At the VHC, we recognize that your animals are a beloved and integral part of your life – and you want to “do right” by them when they become sick or injured. Our clinical counselor is available to support you every step of the way.
Consultations are available for:
- Making complicated treatment decisions
- Addressing family conflict and crisis
- Managing the demands of chronic illness
- Problem-solving financial constraints
- Planning for end of life transitions
- Adjusting to the death of a loved animal
The loss of an animal is often just as difficult, if not more so, than losing a human family member because our relationships with our animals are remarkably intimate and mutually supportive – they love us ‘no strings attached,’ hold our secrets, and accept us as we are. When daily routines center around caring for an animal, their death can also disrupt our sense of home, our sense of safety, our sense of purpose, and our sense of identity.
It is important to remember that grief is a full body experience that can impact our mind, our feelings, our social relationships, and our beliefs about the world. Grief ‘symptoms’ can include… Click here to continue reading.
In general, children of all ages need simple, honest information about what death means and what death looks like. When discussing euthanasia and death, it is best to use concrete words and simple explanations. Additionally, it is important to avoid the use of jargon (such as “putting Fluffy to sleep”) that can be easily misunderstood. Young children may need to know that bodies stop working when they die (bodies can no longer hear, feel, see, or taste) and that death is permanent. Older children may need to know what condition led the body to stop working and why that condition could not be cured by a veterinarian. Here are some things to keep in mind…… Click here to continue reading.
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8AM-5PM
Facility: The Terry Center
Clients of the VHC may ask any member of the veterinary team for a referral to Family & Community Services. Alternatively, you may call the social worker directly at (919) 513-3901 to schedule a consultation. Counseling services are confidential and available to all current VHC clients free of charge.
Short-term grief counseling (up to five, 60-minute sessions) is also available by appointment; appointments should be scheduled directly with the social worker.
Jeannine is a licensed veterinary social worker who specializes in human-animal relationships, grief counseling, and animal-assisted therapy. Providing thoughtful crisis intervention, supportive counseling, and grief support to clients of the Veterinary Health Complex is her main goal.
As an established leader in the developing field of Veterinary Social Work, Jeannine is available to provide training on the human-animal bond, family-centered veterinary care, and compassion fatigue to professionals in mental health, veterinary medicine, and animal welfare. Her family includes two greyhounds, a canary, and a half-Arab horse.
Read more about how Jeannine is able to help here.