We are pleased to have Doreen Di Fiore as our newest board member and future blogger. This is just a short interview so you can all get to know her a bit better.
What is it about Healing Companions that most attracted you to the organization?
Healing Companions, Inc. is committed to raising awareness of the benefits of PSDs. I have long recognized the need for public education (professionals need it too!) about this specific type of service dog, as people are often largely misinformed about mental illness in general as well as the role of PSDs in improving the quality of life for those who struggle on a daily basis. Healing Companions, Inc. incorporates shelter/rescue dogs into the program, and that is fairly unique in the service world. As someone who is passionate about saving the lives of shelter dogs, I am ecstatic to be a part of an organization that recognizes the fact that shelters are filled with dogs who have so much potential, who are waiting to be of service.
How have your professional and personal experiences influenced your desire to get involved with Healing Companions?
My professional training is in the field of psychology. I have been a therapist since the early 90s and have had experience working with people in many different settings and with a very wide range of issues. I feel honored to be someone who people feel safe with, someone they trust with their vulnerabilities. Many years ago I began to notice the therapeutic value of animals, how the human-animal bond can actually transform a person’s life. Dogs offer emotional support, create a sense of safety, and teach us profound lessons about life. It’s what they do! Dogs have so much to offer people and we are only beginning to recognize their potential for improving our quality of life.
Where would you most like to focus your involvement with Healing Companions?
In addition to increasing awareness of the benefits of PSDs, what I love about Healing Companions is their focus on individualized training. The client is emotionally and physically involved in the PSD’s training, a process that serves to begin and strengthen the human-canine bond. So the experience of participating in the training is actually therapeutic. What could be better than that? I am really looking forward to getting involved in every aspect of the training process. And I definitely want to be involved in education and research as well! Serving on the board of Healing Companions, Inc. allows me the opportunity to blend my professional training and experience in the field of psychology with my greatest passion, which is saving the lives of shelter dogs. This opportunity is a blessing and a dream come true for me!