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Grief Counseling Services for Pet Loss

As an additional service for the College of Veterinary Medicine, Lanice is able to provide grief counseling services for clients of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. This service is intended to be short-term in nature, and is focused specifically on issues related to grief and loss. If you are interested in learning more about this service, please consult the following brochure:

Who provides counseling services?

Services are provided by Lanice Chappell, a Licensed Professional Counselor employed by the Texas A&M Student Counseling Service who works in the College of Veterinary Medicine. Since services are provided in a teaching hospital, professional students in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program and/or students in mental health disciplines on the Texas A&M campus may also be involved at times as a part of their training. For example, students may observe or help in leading a pet loss support group.

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When can I utilize services?

Availability of services will depend on Lanice’s schedule. Generally speaking, individual counseling will be available on weekdays and by appointment in the evenings. Services are not available during weekends or on an immediate basis.

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What services are offered?

Individual grief counseling is offered for individuals who have experienced the loss of a companion animal, or who are facing potential loss. This counseling is short term in nature, and is intended to only address grief issues. Additionally, a pet loss support group is an option that may be available depending on current levels of interest.

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What should I expect?

If you are interested in individual counseling, contact Lanice for an appointment. Prior to your first session you will need to complete an online registration form that reviews the nature of services and gathers some basic information. The first session will also focus on reviewing your current status, general history, and present goals. If it appears that you would be better served by utilizing other referral services for longer term issues, Lanice will assist you in exploring potential referral sources.

In regards to the Pet Loss support group, the aim is to provide a time for individuals experiencing grief due to the loss of a companion animal to come together and support each other, express their grief, and honor the bond they shared. The hope is that the group will help in facilitating the grieving process and make adjustment to the loss of a companion animal less distressing. Individuals participating in the group can expect to share stories and memories, describe their feelings in response to their loss, and offer support to other members of the group. Active participation in the group is encouraged, along with showing respect to other members of the group and allowing time for others to share their own personal experiences.

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How do I arrange an appointment?

If you are interested in utilizing counseling services, please contact Lanice by email to schedule an appointment,

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Is it abnormal to mourn for a pet?

No. Humans and animals can develop intense bonds. This is natural, as the relationship between humans and animals is mutually beneficial. Numerous studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits that companion animals can offer. Grief is a natural response to any significant loss; therefore, it is very common for humans to experience strong grief reactions to the death of a beloved companion animal.

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What are the benefits and risks of counseling?

Ordinarily, we expect counseling will have a positive impact on clients and their concerns. Benefits may include decreased depression, confusion, anger, or anxiety; grief feeling less overwhelming; and increased acceptance of your loss. In regards to risks, clients may experience some temporary discomfort when addressing difficult issues such as the powerful feelings associated with grief in counseling. Generally people feel better in the long run when they address these issues; however, there is not a guarantee for how you may feel in counseling.

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What are some helpful resources for grief counseling?

If you are interested in other resources, the following listing suggests some potential options:

Web Sites and Chat Rooms

Pet Loss Support Hotline Numbers

Ohio State University
Staffed by veterinary students
Available Monday, Wednesday, & Friday, 6:30-9:30 PM, ET
(614) 292-1823

Michigan State University
Staffed by veterinary students
Available Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday 6:30-9:30 PM, ET
(517) 432-2696

Iams Pet Loss Support Resource Center
(888) 332-7738

The American Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Stephanie LaFarge, Ph.D.
(800) 946-4646 pin #140-7211 and leave your number

Helpful Readings on Pet Loss

Especially for Children...

  • Liss-Levinson, N. and Phinney Baskette, M., Remembering My Pet, SkyLight
  • Paths Publishing, 2007
  • Rogers, F., When a Pet Dies, Putnam Publishing, 1988
  • Rylant, C., Cat Heaven, Scholastic, Inc., Blue Sky Press, 1997
  • Rylant, C., Dog Heaven, Scholastic, Inc., Blue Sky Press, 1995
  • Viorst, J., The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, Antheneum, 1972
  • White, E., Charlottes's Web, Harper & Row, 1952

Reading for Adults...

  • Anderson, M., Coping With Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet, Peregrine Press, 1987
  • Fitzgerald, H., The Grieving Child: A Parent's Guide, Fireside, 1992
  • Kay, T., To Dance With the White Dog, Washington Square Press, 1990
  • Kay, W., et al, Pet Loss and Human Bereavement, Iowa State University Press, 1984
  • McElroy, S., Animals as Teachers & Healers, NewSage Press, 1996
  • Montgomery, M. and Montgomery, H., A Final Act of Caring: Ending the Life of An Animal Friend, Montgomery Press, 1993
  • Neiburg, H., et al, Pet Loss: A Thoughtful Guide for Adults and Children, Harper and Row, 1982
  • Sife, Wallace, The Loss of a Pet: A Guide to Coping With the Grieving Process When a Pet Dies, MacMillan Pub. Howell Book House, 1998
  • Traisman, E., My Personal Pet Remembrance Journal, Direct Book Services, (800) 776-2665, 1996

Audio CD


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