De-stress before Finals by Visiting with “Man’s Best Friend”
The EKU Counseling Center will sponsor a special event to give students, faculty and staff an opportunity before finals begin to relax and learn ways to manage stress: sessions with 13 therapy dogs and their handlers – the first time this type of event has been held on a Kentucky college campus.
“Pawsibilities for Student Success at EKU” will feature three sessions on Wednesday, April 25, trained therapy dogs, as well as information and strategies for stress management.
“EKU’s Counseling Center is available to provide the full range of counseling services for students as they navigate this challenging yet wonderful period in their lives,” said Counseling Center Director Jen Walker. “The primary aim of the Counseling Center is to help students to succeed in their goals as college students. If we can’t help them, we try to find other resources where they can get the help they need. We offer counseling, workshops, and classes. (See www.counseling.eku.edu for more information.) One of the top stresses for the college student is academic stress. Anxiety can rise considerably for the college student during the time before and during finals.”
The Counseling Center will provide tips on specific strategies designed to help students address their test anxiety during the April 25 event, and the therapy dogs, along with handlers, will be available to students at the Powell Student Center, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; Campus Recreation Center, 3-5 p.m.; and Burnam Hall, 5-7 p.m.
The certified handlers accompanying the dogs are from the Richmond-Madison County area, Cynthiana, Frankfort, Owensboro, Shepherdsville, Georgetown and Shelbyville.
The Kentucky non-profit group providing the dogs and handlers, Pawsibilities Unleashed: Pet Therapy of Kentucky, is a central Kentucky therapy pet and service dog organization run by volunteers with two professional trainers who assess dogs for entrance into the program. The therapy dogs visit hospitals, nursing homes, Hospice facilities and libraries, and work with autistic children -- now they’re helping on college campuses.
Why therapy dogs?
“Pets can have a dramatic calming effect on people,” Walker explained. “A calm, gentle, friendly dog can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Dogs can be reminiscent of fond memories of home.”
Studies have shown that a few minutes of stroking a pet dog decreases cortisol, the stress hormone in both the human and the dog and produces positive effects by reducing blood pressure and inducing relaxation.