Meghan Finnerty | August 05, 2022
An epiphany that combined a love for llamas with a career in therapy is leading to groundbreaking social work.
Patrice Beadle has raised and shown Llamas since 1997. She was working in accounting and human resources, like she had for more than 35 years, until one day in her late 50’s she had an epiphany – she could combine her beloved llamas with a new career.
She joined the Master of Social Work Program at SUNY Brockport with a dream of working in the area of clinical social work using animal intervention and the integration of animals in psychotherapy.
Standing inside her barn in Holley, NY, she explained that these animals bring a sense of calm, they’re non-judgmental, show kindness, extremely gentle and their fur, called fiber, is extremely soft to the touch.
“For clients that want to meet the animal, they can talk to the animal, and I would facilitate the conversations,” she explained. Together with clients they could groom the Llama, which would develop responsibility skills, bonding and bring comfort. “The llamas enhance the therapeutic relationship between the clinician and the client,” she said.
Throughout her education, Beadle researched and found more than 100 articles she cited in her thesis citations on the integration of animals in clinical social work therapy and its use and benefits.
“Over 52 million American adults and 49.5% of adolescents suffer some level of mental illness and can benefit from the integration of animals into psychotherapy.”
“Over 52 million American adults and 49.5% of adolescents suffer some level of mental illness and can benefit from the integration of animals into psychotherapy,” she wrote in her thesis. “The interactions that take place and the bonds that develop between animals and humans provide a great many benefits and are facilitators of improved mental health and recovery.”
However, Llamas weren’t really mentioned. Instead, dogs, horses, cats – things like that. But, why not Llamas?
“Anyone I can introduce them to, and the concept, I do,” she said.
The concept is to integrate actual therapy of psychological methods for treatment of clients, and not just a pet visit or just a limited encounter.
Since graduating, Beadle began working with the Orleans County Mental Health Department to start her progress toward her clinical license. Meanwhile, until she can practice on her own, Beadle will continue sharing and highlighting the benefits of animal integration with her Llamas.