Children and Animals: A Psychological Perspective (Barbara Cook Memorial Lecture)

7:00 pm CDT - 9:30 pm CDT

Roeland Park Community Center

Price $20
members: $15
students: $15

brenda-murrowPresented by Brenda Murrow, PhD T-LMLP

Animals are included as characters in many of the world’s mythologies. Von Franz (1996) explained that the animals in fairy tales and other stories are intended as “anthropomorphic beings” and that “they are animals and human beings” simultaneously (p. 35). The animal’s role in the story is a “symbolic” one, to be “the carrier of the projection of human psychic factors” (pp. 35-36).  In this way, animals are used to express the aspects of our human natures that may be difficult to accept.

This is especially useful for children, who generally find it easier to project their internal worlds onto animals.  It would seem natural then, that children interact with animals to support their emotional lives, and in fact the use of animal-assisted therapy is increasing.

This discussion will be an overview of the ways in which children interact with animals in a psychotherapeutic format.  This interaction will be explained from a psychodynamic orientation, and then further explored from a depth psychological, specifically Jungian, viewpoint.  Clinical case material will be shared to illustrate these ideas.

Dr. Murrow is a mental health therapist at Pawnee Mental Health Services in northeast Kansas.  She has expertise in supporting adults, children, and families with symptoms that affect their ability to thrive at home, work, or school.  She specializes in working with clients who have experienced sexual abuse and other traumatic experiences.  Prior to joining Pawnee Mental Health Services, Brenda’s clinical training experiences spanned an array of environments, and were primarily focused on children’s therapy, including infant-parent attachment, play therapy, and psychoanalytic interventions with emotionally disturbed children.

Brenda is a graduate of the Clinical Psychology program at Pacifica Graduate Institute near Santa Barbara, CA.  Her dissertation was a study that explored the relationships between a therapy dog and child survivors of domestic violence, physical, and sexual abuse.  Her post doctoral fellowship was completed at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center, in Los Angeles, a training program focused on the use of psychoanalytic therapy interventions with children and families.

In addition to being a clinician, Brenda is also a professor part-time.  She teaches statistics and research methods to doctoral psychology students.  She is passionate about finding better ways to serve clients, and she learns about how to do that through being informed of academic theory and research, and also through each encounter with a client.

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