Applying Psychology in Veterinary Practice
eCPD Tutorial with Susan Dawson
This two hour eCPD tutorial for veterinary nurses, explores the importance of veterinary professionals considering where their primary duty of care lies: to their non-human companion animal patient or their human client. In considering how ethical conflicts in veterinary practice are managed on daily basis, the importance of professionals having insight into pet owners’ psychological representations of their companion animals (CAs) as a means of gaining deeper understanding of pet-person dyads is highlighted as an essential requirement in responding to conflicts of interests between owners’ demands and expectations and animal welfare. Self Psychology (Brown, 2003, 2004; Dawson, 2007; Kohut, 1971) is introduced as a psychological paradigm for understanding pet ownership and gaining insight into possible causes of animal welfare concerns frequently encountered in veterinary practice, e.g. lack of compliance to administering medication, pet obesity, behavioural “problems,” owner relinquishment and animal hoarding. The Paediatrician Model and Mechanical Model of Veterinary Practice (Rollin, 2010) are introduced within discussion of the inevitable tensions inherent within veterinary practice as a business which has protection of animal welfare as its central concern. The importance of using empathy as a portal for understanding the relationships between pets and people is illustrated with case examples and the concept of relationship centred veterinary practiced is explored.