Dr Sandra Barker
Dr. Sandra Barker is Professor of Psychiatry and Bill Balaban Endowed Chair in Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University where she serves as Director of the School of Medicine Center for Human-Animal Interaction (CHAI), and Affiliate Scientist in the Center for Biobehavioral Clinical Research. As CHAI Director, she oversees an evidence-based therapy dog program, Dogs On Call, that is fully integrated into a major academic medical center and recently featured on Animal Planet and (Mission Critical Health) healthcare education videos, both aired globally.
Dr. Barker has vast teaching and clinical experience in treating trauma survivors, providing and evaluating animal-assisted interventions, and directing and providing a pet loss counseling program. She is internationally recognized for her research on the health benefits of interacting with companion animals, a research program that spans over 25 years. Dr. Barker also holds a joint appointment as Adjunct Professor of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine where she established a pet loss support hotline and serves on their Advisory Board for the Center for Animal-Human Relationships. Dr. Barker has published and presented extensively on the benefits of interacting with companion animals and is often interviewed for major media outlets including National Public Radio, Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian. She is an honorary patron of Irish Therapy Dogs, serves on the Pet Partners Human-Animal Bond Advisory Board, and volunteers with a local rescue dog transit team.