Introducing Lisa Havelin, our professional pet loss and bereavement counselor

Lisa has been a member of our staff since 2011. I suspect that many of our clients don’t realize the degree of training and experience she possesses as she picks up the phone to assist with questions or scheduling an appointment. You can reach Lisa Monday through Friday 8 AM to 6 PM, except for Wednesday, when she is engaged in her counseling practice.

What made you interested in working within the field of veterinary medicine?
I’ve always felt a kinship with the natural world generally and animals in particular, it’s just part of my “fabric”. I experience animals as part of my family, and so naturally have a sense of my role as “guardian” to them. I have a keen inspiration to understand them better, to learn how to be in relationship and communicate with them and to see them be healthy, safe, and fulfilled. I’m also their student and recognize more and more all of the incredible things they do for us! They are amazing teachers.

What is your educational background?
My first career is as a professional studio artist. I received my Master of Fine Arts degree from State University of New York in the field of metalsmithing. I have taught in the Department of Art and Art History at St. Catherine University for 10 years and maintain my own studio producing fine art and jewelry (petreliquaries.com). I am currently working on a body of work titled “Mourning Crowns”. In 2005 I had the opportunity to apprentice with Linda Kohanov who is a pioneer in the field of equine assisted psychotherapy (partnering with horses to facilitate therapeutic interactions with people). In conjunction with that work I received a Master’s degree in counseling and psychotherapy from Alfred Adler Graduate School. My studies there focused on the human-animal bond and mindfulness based therapies. During that time I also interned for the Social Work Services Department at the University of MN Veterinary Medical Center and later worked for them as their on-call clinical counselor. I have specialized training as a grief counselor and in sensorimotor psychotherapy for the treatment of trauma. I also have a private practice devoted to pet loss and grief counseling, lisahavelin.com.

How do you help MN PETS clients?
Many of our clients consider their animals to be members of their families and have primary intimate bonds with them. When an individual is faced with the death of a beloved animal the seriousness of that loss cannot be underestimated. As one who has experienced the trauma of such a loss one of the main things I do is bear witness to the pain and profundity of what is happening for another person. I listen intently to the stories I am entrusted with and look for the place that my client needs to be met with support. I help them to name the resources and wisdom that are inherently or intuitively their own and then help to create strategies that bring those resources to bear on their unique experience. I also educate clients about grief processes, euthanasia, end-of-life planning and help them negotiate how best to include their families and children into the process. I support them with decision making related to how to know when it is the right time to consider euthanasia and also help those who are experiencing a kind of persistent grief that does not seem to get better over time.

What sort of training do you provide for the doctor staff at Minnesota Pets?
We often hear from clients: “I don’t know how you do this day in and day out…” It’s a good question and the answer is twofold. I believe our doctors are genuinely inspired or “called” to do this work. They, too, love their animals and see how important it is to provide this valuable option. The other answer is that it’s extremely important to be skilled with how to attend to our own well-being. I support our doctors by helping them to identify and practice skills in areas of their work they experience as challenging. I also provide education from a mental health/psychology perspective related to self-care, stress reduction & resiliency, human-animal bond relationships, non-medical end-of-life planning, family-centered euthanasia counseling and grief support.

What are some of your hobbies and interests?
Hmmm, so many things….. My mainstay first love is horses. I started taking riding lessons when I was eight and rode competitively through my young adulthood. I still love the training and discipline of riding but now I spend more time riding with my horse Bonnie (a Morgan mare) in the wilderness and interacting with her herd of fifty horses in their huge pastures.

My husband and I recently moved to a home on an acre of land. We are restoring the land to what it was before it was developed with indigenous plants and trees. We are interested in creating habitat for the creatures nearby which include many varieties of birds. It is a labor of love!

More information about Lisa can be found in the About Us page.

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2 Responses to Introducing Lisa Havelin, our professional pet loss and bereavement counselor

  1. Pingback: Children and Pet Loss | MN Pets

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