GVMA Spotlights: Taylor Chastain Griffin, PhD

Q: What is your current role in veterinary medicine? 

Dr. Griffin: I serve on the GVMA’s wellness committee to help support the development of mental health resources for those working in the veterinary field. Having worked with many veterinarians over the years, I have a special appreciation for all that veterinary professionals do and cope with on a daily basis. It’s my hope that my background in psychology and specialty in the human-animal bond enables me to support veterinary professionals in a unique way.

Q: What brings you joy in your work?

Dr. Griffin: Given my work in animal-assisted interventions, I’m afforded the wonderful opportunity to bring the positive impact of the human-animal bond to broad audiences. I believe that we have so many lessons to learn from our animal companions. They teach us to be present, playful, and resilient, and the human-animal bond is an avenue to teaching those lessons in new ways. 

Q: Tell us about the human-animal bond and how it relates to veterinary medicine/science.

Dr. Griffin: The human-animal bond is the mutually beneficial relationship that we share with animals. It’s a relationship that is capable of improving the physical, social, and emotional lives of both the people and the animals who are a part of it. Those working in the veterinary medicine field are often some of the biggest advocates for this bond, teaching clients how to best care for their animals and validating the fact that this relationship is an extremely significant point of attachment.

Q: What are the benefits to strengthening the human-animal bond?

Dr. Griffin: Just like interpersonal relationships that are shared between humans, the bond that we share with animals can be strengthened to improve communication, trust, and even to aid in our ability to share empathy. The more connected we are with our animals, the less behavioral issues we tend to have with them. Even when issues occur, we’re better positioned to respond to them based on a foundation of trust. We also see that connecting with animals gives us the ability to consider life from their perspective and in turn better advocate for their needs and welfare. This is a skill that can be translated into our human-to-human interactions- making us kinder, more compassionate people.

Q: Why is it important that GVMA provide wellness resources to GA veterinarians?

Dr. Griffin: Veterinarians do incredibly important work that can also be extremely emotionally tasking. The GVMA wellness committee is intended to provide curated resources that specifically address considerations unique to the profession so that veterinarians have easier access to impactful support.  

Q: What are some best practices for promoting and improving the human-animal bond in clinics?

Dr. Griffin: Veterinary clinics are one of the most trusted resources that the population has in terms of learning about the human-animal bond. Consider ways in which you can best educate clients about the dynamic relationship between people and pets. Communicate the sentient nature of animals in all that you do, and promote strategies such as participation in animal training and increased quality time as enhancers of the human-animal bond.

Q: It is no secret that this profession is a demanding one. What are some small steps veterinary professionals can take to protect and foster their well-being?

Dr. Griffin: One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my animals relates to the power of play. Take short breaks to engage in lighthearted activities, whether that be throwing a ball for your dog, taking a moment to play with your cat, or engaging in a hobby completely unrelated to animal care.

“The work that veterinarians do is so important that there can be a temptation to spend all of your time working towards your professional cause. While it’s a noble effort, it can also be very draining and we quickly learn that it is impossible to pour from an empty cup.”

Making the time to do things that refuel your energy ends up serving your clients and their pets in the long run, so give yourself permission to work wellness strategies into your daily schedule. There’s nothing selfish about prioritizing self-care!

Get access to mental health resources, tools, and support:

As a GVMA Member you get access to the GVMA Compass – a program with mental health, legal, and financial resources/support. Accessing the Compass is always 100% FREE and CONFIDENTIAL. Available to all GVMA Members, their team members, family, and loved ones.

Want to learn more? Access our Learning Library for on-demand CE!

The Science Behind The Human-Animal Bond & The Application of These Principles to Promote General Wellness with Taylor Chastain & Ashley Tolleson (1.5 CE Hr)