Darlene Chalmers


Darlene Chalmers is an Assistant Professor at the University of Regina in the Faculty of Social Work. Her research interests include animal-assisted interventions in human health and substance misuse, culture-based approaches to healing, One Health, veterinary social work, and environmental issues. Dr. Chalmers’ research includes exploration of equine-assisted learning (EAL) as an adjunct to residential addiction treatment and healing programs for Indigenous youth. She has published some of the original Canadian work in this field. Her teaching and research is guided by community-based, participatory approaches that incorporate multiple ways of knowing.

Node Funded Project (February 2016)

Tile: Treating Drug Addiction with Animal Assisted Therapy

Principal Investigator: Darlene Chalmers, University of Regina


Dr. Colleen Dell, U of Sask


This CRISM node project builds on a study titled Social Work Practice & Human-Animal Interaction Survey across the prairie provinces (AB, SK, MB) of Canada. There is a dearth of literature about social workers’ experiences and theoretical knowledge on the inclusion of animals in their practices. And there is nearly nothing documented specific to the substance misuse field. The area of Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) in the substance misuse field is relatively new to practice and even more recent to empirical investigation. Research on the benefits of pet ownership only commenced in the early 1980s. Attention to AAIs, however, is increasing exponentially – reflected in dogs working in addictions residential facilities through to detoxification centres. The social work survey findings will be the beginning point to link with node members. This project will undertake the development of a series of webinars to connect prairie node members and respond to a community request to develop a pilot study at an AB federal correctional institution (titled Animal Assisted Intervention Pilot Intervention Project: Drumheller Institution). This work will inform the development of a CHIR grant which will focus on creating and disseminating resources for substance misuse AAIs.



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