Psychologist to give talk on inmate rehabilitation through animal programs

 Dr. Clarissa Uttley, a member of the faculty at the Plymouth State University whose areas of expertise include early childhood, psychology and pet therapy, will speak this month about prison-based animal programs. 

            She will give her talk, “Taking a Bite out of Crime: Inmate Rehabilitation through Prison-based Animal Programs,” at 7 p.m. March 17 in the Lester and Barbara Rice Auditorium in Fisher Hall.

            An educator and psychologist by training, Uttley became fascinated by the influence of pets on people when she worked as the education specialist for a small zoo in Massachusetts prior to enrolling in graduate school.

            She is a certified Pet Assisted Therapy facilitator and conducts research on how animals can support the social-emotional development of young children. She has worked in restorative justice programs with adolescents and animals with a focus on developing career skills and helping children feel they are positive contributors to the community.

            Uttley has published several pertinent articles: “Cisco’s Kids” describes how Cisco, a chocolate Labrador retriever, was able to work with gang members in a juvenile detention facility to reduce violence and recidivism rates; and “Pet-Assisted Therapy and the Traumatized Child,” which details how a therapeutic intervention program can assist adolescents and young children to cope better with the trauma in their lives.

            Her research interests include early childcare, early intervention programs, program evaluation, multiculturalism and pet-assisted therapy. She has published in the Journal of Emotional Abuse and numerous educational journals. Uttley is a member of the American Psychological Association and the International Society for the Study of Anthrozoology.

            She holds a doctoral degree in psychology with a specialization in behavioral science and research methodology from the University of Rhode Island.

            The Division of Behavioral andSocial Sciences at Pitt-Bradford is the sponsor for Uttley’s talk.

            For disability-related needs, contact the Office of Disability Resources and Services at (814)362-7609 or