Seton Hill University’s Center for Family Therapy in downtown Greensburg, Pa. will begin offering a free support group for individuals of all ages suffering the loss of a pet. The Pet Loss Support Group will meet on the second Tuesday of each month, beginning on December 11, from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the Center, located at 41 West Otterman Street, in Greensburg, Pa. For more information, call 724-552-0339.

According to the 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey, 63 percent of households in the United States own a pet. Because the life span of pets in general is short, all of these owners will eventually face the death of their beloved companion animal. Research completed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has shown that the human grieving process following a pet’s death is similar to that experienced by people who have lost a family member or close friend. However, addressing grief associated with the loss of a companion animal can be more difficult than addressing the grief associated with the end of human-human relationships because there are presently no universally accepted social mechanisms or rituals to facilitate resolution of a pet owner’s grief. The Seton Hill University Center for Family Therapy’s Pet Loss Support Group was founded with the help of Hank Croft, Jr., VMD, owner and CEO of the Loyalhanna Veterinary Clinic, Inc. in Stahlstown, Pa. and through a grant from the R. K. Mellon Family Foundation. Director of Clinical Social Work Services and Pet Bereavement Services at the Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Christina Bach, MSW, helped launch the new support group with two workshops in November 2007: “Pet Loss and Its Impact on the Family System” for therapists, faculty and students of Seton Hill’s graduate program in Marriage and Family Therapy; and a presentation for local veterinarians, veterinary staff, kennel personnel and pet groomers.

The Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Seton Hill University teaches students family systems theory, research, and clinical techniques with special emphasis on understanding family process with a broader socio-cultural context. The uniqueness of the program resides in the focus on studying relationship systems and preparing students to become effective relationship therapists. The curriculum is infused with a special emphasis on preparing students in a heightened awareness of themselves and the world around them through understanding how socio-cultural issues shape clinical practice and the broader mental health service delivery system. This emphasis is congruent with Seton Hill University’s commitment to advocating for marginalized groups, especially women, and striving to improve relationships between people and their environment. The Marriage and Family Therapy Program (MFT) at Seton Hill University leads to a Master of Arts degree. The program provides students the education and clinical experience necessary to seek licensure as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Pennsylvania. Additionally, graduates have completed the requisite educational requirements to seek Clinical Membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). The Program has candidacy status with the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

Seton Hill University, founded by the Sisters of Charity, is a coeducational Catholic liberal arts university in Greensburg, Pa. Chartered in 1918, Seton Hill offers more than 30 undergraduate programs and nine graduate programs, including an MBA. Seton Hill brings the world to its students through its distinguished lecturers and nationally and internationally renowned centers. Recognized three times by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the nation’s Top 100 Entrepreneurial Universities, Seton Hill has also been named a Best Baccalaureate College by U.S. News & World Report, one of the Best in the Northeast by The Princeton Review, and one of Pennsylvania’s Top 100 Businesses by Pennsylvania Business Central. In addition, Seton Hill has been named a University of Distinction by Colleges of Distinction, an organization founded by a group of concerned parents, educators and admissions professionals. For more information on Seton Hill please visit or call 1-800-826-6234.

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