Episode 27

Published on:

10th Dec 2020

Animal-Assisted Interventions to Help People Heal with Bethanie Poe

Today, we continue our discussion with another professional in the field of Veterinary Social Work. Veterinary Social Work is a field that keeps on growing as more and more people recognize the important role that animals play in the healing process.

Today, I am speaking with Dr. Bethanie Poe. Bethanie strives to bring animal-assisted interventions to victims of violence, abuse, and neglect. She started her Master’s program at the University of Tennessee’s College of Social Work in 2005. The college had two tracks at the time, Clinical, and Management and Community Practice. Bethanie entered the Master’s program, thinking that she wanted to be a Clinical Social Worker who would eventually have a private practice doing therapy, particularly with survivors of abuse. During her first internship, however, she quickly discovered that that was not a good fit for her, and she did not enjoy it at all. So she switched from Clinical to the Management and Community Practice track. 

In this episode, Bethanie shares some powerful stories about her work with the University of Tennessee’s programs and animal-assisted interventions that help people in their healing journeys. Bethanie’s story is a fine example of the idea that you will eventually end up right where you are supposed to be. Be sure to stay tuned today to find out what Bethanie has to tell us about the work she is doing to protect victims of abuse and ensure that the rights of animals are recognized, respected, and upheld.

Show highlights:

  • Bethanie explains how switching from the Clinical to the Management and Community Practice track for her second internship for her Master’s program ended up being a perfect outcome for her.
  • Bethanie explains how Dr. Elizabeth Strand assisted her and helped her discover that the University of Tennessee’s Social Work Program was the ideal fit for her.
  • Bethanie explains what The Link is and what it means.
  • Bethanie looks at how people’s attitudes towards caring for animals have been evolving.
  • Looking at the idea of creating programs that will allow foster children to take their pets with them.
  • Bethanie discusses the stigmas that are associated with difficult and abusive situations.
  • The grant that the Animal Protection Association in St. Louis has for victims of domestic violence.
  • The issue of housing.
  • There are certain obstacles related to working with people who do not have vaccinated cats and dogs.
  • Bethanie explains how people manage to stay in the field.
  • Bethanie talks about what she does in her role as the Middle Tennessee Coordinator for UT’s Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee ( H.A.B.I.T).
  • The kind of temperament that dogs need to have, to be able to go into abuse facilities.
  • Bethanie talks about the volunteers at H.A.B.I.T and the kind of orientation they get when they join.
  • The type of interventions in which animals get used.
  • The importance of involving kids in discussions regarding their animals.
  • Bethanie talks about some things that would be helpful to her for the work she does with The Link.
  • How Covid has affected Bethanie's work.


Dr. Bethanie A. Poe, LMSW is a graduate of the University of Tennessee’s College of Social Work’s Ph.D. program. She was a Fellow in UT’s Veterinary Social Work program where she assisted in the development of the Veterinary Social Work Certificate Program for concurrent and post-graduate students. She began her work in family violence almost fifteen years ago, working first in a domestic violence shelter before moving on to work in child protection. She then continued her work in the field at the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence where she worked with batterers’ intervention programs. Dr. Poe is currently the Middle Tennessee Coordinator for UT’s Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee (H.A.B.I.T) program where she strives to bring animal-assisted interventions to victims of violence, abuse, and neglect.






Email Bethanie

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About the Podcast

Animal Academy Podcast
Animal Academy Podcast
The stories of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in the Human-Animal connection. Listen as Allison White showcases professionals who share their areas of expertise in an ongoing series of interviews that will help us all understand that WE are the ones that actually end up learning – from the Animals. This is – The Animal Academy Podcast.

About your host

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Allison White

Allison is a licensed clinical social worker and Veterinary Social Worker who has been working in the mental health field for over 28 years. She has been involved in programs that value the human-animal connection including participating in animal-assisted therapy, obedience, agility, conformation, herding and field work with her dogs. When her dogs encountered sports-related injuries, she was introduced to the field of canine rehabilitation and sport’s medicine. When dogs faced chronic health issues, Allison, too, suffered from Compassion Fatigue, which can occur when taking care of loved ones, including animals as well as people. This led Allison to complete extensive training in Compassion Fatigue and then go on to present this information for the benefit of helping others in the health care environment and animal caregivers.
Allison’s passion has been to recognize this human-animal bond and what we can learn from animals, which improves our own quality of life by allowing us to experience their unconditional love, devotion and intelligence. We can all learn from the animals.