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Jill Meyers: Assisting the World

(Photo - Jill Meyers)SLUO Program Support Admin Jill Meyers and her new dog Cisco are more than just buddies—they may become coworkers.

Meyers is hoping that Cisco will one day be a therapy dog: an animal used in counseling sessions to help build a bridge between counselor and client. These animals can break the ice with a client who has trouble opening up and talking, or they can help teach socialization to kids with social disorders. Cisco—who is a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix—is still in the early stages of obedience training, so it will be while before he decides if he has a career in counseling.

When Meyers isn't assisting the many users who come to SLAC or spending time with her dog, she is earning hours to gain her Marriage and Family Therapy license. When her day is done at SLAC, she works as an intern at the Pathways Home Health and Hospice in Sunnyvale.

Her counseling philosophy focuses on animal and environment assisted therapy; this is one of the reasons why she loves the SLAC campus. As a counselor, she has found that taking time to enjoy nature helps people let go of anxiety and revitalize their energy, and SLAC's natural setting, wild life and community gardens make it a therapeutic workplace. "The connection between nature and a good work environment is clear at SLAC," she says. "I can go over to the garden for a while and just feel better, no matter what's going on at work."

At the hospice where she is an intern, Meyers is able to incorporate another major part of her counseling approach: art. She has started a workshop at the hospice called HeARTful Memories: Creative Expression of Your Loved One’s Memory. HeARTful Memories encourages families of patients to create art projects to honor the life of their loved one.

Meyers says HeARTful Memories allows the families to "get out of the medial model for a while," and create a lasting piece of art that she's sure they'll cherish for many years. It's an experience that she says is rewarding and humbling. She adds with a little smile, "I'm trying to make a difference in the bigger picture."

Calla Cofield, SLAC Today, May 21, 2008