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Animals in Mental Health Recovery

Alicia Smith

Alicia Smith, while living with Bipolar II, PTSD, Agoraphobia and Major Depression, taught over 85,000 people in person and 12,000 virtually.  Now medically retired, Alicia focuses her time on mental health advocacy, and various volunteer activities, to improve our country's mental health care.  People have asked her to present to groups and she has developed four interesting and unusual takes on recovery in mental health.  The topics are Advocacy:  How to write your advocacy story, TAG don't NAG, Laugh for the Health of it, and this program on the Role of Animals in Mental Health Recovery.  She became aware of Psychiatric Service dogs when it was recommended she be paired with one.  After 9 months of detailed research she came out of it understanding the laws (both state and federal as well as on the ground or in the air), the value of being paired with a Service Dog, together with the pitfalls and perils.   She also enjoys hiking Montana's trails with her first service dog Hunka (Hunka Burning Love and his replacement as he ages into retirement, Tella (Tipsy Tella Thunderpaws).