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Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC

Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC
Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC

Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC is a licensed psychologist, registered play therapist-supervisor, and certified dog behavior consultant with nearly 40 years of experience in a variety of settings working primarily with children and families with a wide range of difficulties. She is president of the Family Enhancement & Play Therapy Center, Inc. and the founder of its Playful Pooch Program in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania. Internationally known in the play therapy field, she has trained thousands of mental health and play therapy professionals how to strengthen family relationships, overcome serious trauma, conduct play therapy and filial therapy, and conduct animal assisted play therapy. Risë is a past president/board chair of the Association for Play Therapy and has received numerous awards for her leadership, training, and writing. She has been instrumental in integrating the fields of play therapy and animal assisted therapy, creating guidelines and standards for practice, developing a credentialing process, and conducting research in this specialized and promising field.

Dr. VanFleet is the author of dozens of books, chapters, articles, and DVDs in the play therapy and family therapy field, as well as the book, Play Therapy with Kids & Canines, which was the 2008 DWAA winner of the Planet Dog Foundation's “Sit-Speak-Act Award.” Her most recent book for canine professionals on how to work effectively with people (Dogwise) is expected to be released in the fall. Risë is a regular contributor to APDT's Chronicle of the Dog, and she received 2009 and 2011 Maxwell Awards for best magazine series related to dogs and best training article in any magazine, respectively (published in the Chronicle).

Dr. VanFleet also uses nonaversive, relationship-focused dog training methods in her canine training and behavior-consultation work, and specializes in highly fearful, traumatized, and semi-feral dogs, as well as building handler-canine working relationships for play therapy work. She is interested in the role of play and the involvement of other dogs for social facilitation with traumatized dogs as well. She often volunteers her time to work with dogs in rescue, and sometimes involves children in programs there. She is an approved evaluator for the AKC's Canine Good Citizen (R) program. In addition to her work with dogs, kids, and families, Risë (pronounced "Reesa") is involved in organizational development consultation, and is an accomplished pianist and an award-winning nature photographer specializing in Alaskan wildlife.


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