Assistance Dog Training: Therapeutic Healing Through Your 4-Legged Companion

Patterson Physical Therapy has added a new member to their team who offers a new and unique service, Assistance Dog Training, for those with physical or mental impairments.

Jackson, TN, June 15, 2020 --( Molly Jean Schantz, OTR/L and dog trainer is combining her Occupational Therapy practice with her dog training skills to bring Assistance Dog Training to the community. Molly is offering Assistance Dog Training to anyone with a physical or mental impairment where the dog can be of assistance to the handler. Molly works primarily with the client/handlers to teach them how to train their dogs to meet their personal needs and goals. Dogs can be trained for: mobility, balance, picking items up off the floor, turning on and off lights, carrying or holding items, seizure alert, deep pressure therapy, crowd control, waking a handler up as an alarm, opening and closing doors, assisting with activities of daily living such as making the bed or opening the fridge for an amputee as well as for companionship and safety, for example, assisting an individual with anxiety to leave the house.

Molly lost her mother to suicide in June of 2014, and shortly after, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the pain and anxiety that haunted her since she was the one to find her mother. Through the pain she endured, she found her Silver Lining: Gunner, her PTSD service dog. Instead of falling into a deep hole after this tragedy, she took care of herself and structured her environment in such a way that it provided her with all the ingredients that inoculate against situational depression. By training her own service dog, she was provided with daily structure, responsibility for another, meaning, and a source of positive reinforcement and love. Molly says, “The most important thing that I did after the loss of my Mom was to get a companion to help me deal with my emotions. By training my puppy to become a PTSD service dog, I created tasks for myself that required self-discipline, such as training, walking, and feeding schedules, while providing myself with structure as well as a source of joy.”

Since then, Molly has been on a journey to learn how to train these four-legged companions and now it is time to give back what was given to her. Molly's background is in mental health with a BA in psychology and a Master’s in Occupational Therapy, she strives to help individuals lead purposeful and meaningful lives following trauma or disability. Molly utilizes a unique perspective and provides client-centered occupation-based interventions enabling her clients to maximize their potential and lead independent and meaningful lives. This strengthens the human-animal bond and is more cost effective than buying an already trained assistance animal. Assistance dogs include, but are not limited to, Service dogs, Emotional support Animals (ESA) and Home Helpmates. If you do not qualify for an assistance dog, she will also be offering private basic obedience lessons and classes for anyone looking to strengthen the bond with his or her canine companion.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, Service Animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. The dog must be specially trained to assist the handler with something directly related to his or her disability.

Someone who may benefit from an assistance dog would include a diagnosis of: PTSD, Autism, Sensory processing disorder, Narcolepsy, Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), cerebral palsy, or anyone with a physical disability that limits function in everyday life such as an amputee, stroke, or even arthritis. To get your occupational therapy services covered by your insurance, a proper diagnosis and physician referral is necessary. Private one-on-one cash pay sessions are also available to those without insurance coverage or those who are unable obtain a referral. For more information, please call 731-300-4950, visit our website at or email with any questions.

About Patterson Physical Therapy
Patterson Physical Therapy was established in 2013 and has grown to two locations, Jackson and Three Way, with a team of 7 Physical Therapists, an Occupational Therapist and a Physician Assistant. We are known for hands-on therapy that gets results and we treat the body as a whole, not as a single body part. Our therapists constantly undergo training in the latest techniques and possess a variety of specialties including dry needling, pelvic floor therapy, orthotics, spine, myofascial release, and lymphedema therapy.
Patterson Physical Therapy
Melissa Humphreys