Serving as a point of entry to someone new can make a world of difference.
Actively work on skills to feel more comfortable interacting with new people.
Meet like-minded people to learn and share experiences with.
The SafePup Initiative is a peer education program that focuses on establishing both an identifiable value for community and a framework for becoming more comfortable with social interactions. Part One is mostly a conceptual look at these values as well as a participant’s potential impact while Part Two is centered around workshops meant to develop skills.
While the skills developed in our workshops have wide applications, the only expectation of a SafePup (or handler/ally) is to serve as a liaison for those new to the community. A SafePup is not obligated to form long-lasting bonds indiscriminately, but rather to allow people a foot in the door so they may better recognize the potential for connections.
Given the stigma that can surround arguably aberrant activities, it can be difficult for newcomers to feel comfortable allowing themselves to have new experiences or forge new connections. Additionally, the focus pet play places on headspaces and nonverbal communication yields some excellent ways to help someone feel less trepidation about social interaction that may not be viable in other communities.
The goals set forth by this program are by no means exclusive to pet play, and can be utilized in virtually any community or social situation. Anyone who wants to help their own community is more than welcome to join us in recognizing ways to strengthen it. As for handlers specifically, they are in a position to not only help nervous pups with physical stimulus like scritches but can also help direct pups to those who may need a distraction or other means of comforting.
Committing fully to active engagement is no small feat. Although anyone can contribute in their own way, being a SafePup means not only being active but making conscious efforts to be approachable in social environments. Since this may cause people to approach you instead of the other way around, being a SafePup may put you in situations that could challenge your comfort level. But don’t fret! The educational resources provided can be studied or practiced, and you can always reconsider as your comfort level increases.
One of the most common manifestations of nervousness is feelings of uncertainty. While a purely educational setting can surely help mitigate this, we believe that the additional structure of having workshops and resources can help set a framework that can further diminish these feelings of uncertainty by focusing on specific areas of improvement.
HelpGuide.org has an article with a fairly comprehensive breakdown of symptoms, self-help methods, and treatment options to deal with social anxiety.
This article takes a look at how we can help support the growth of others no matter our relationship with them, something necessary for any sizable community to thrive.
A look at how habitual thought patterns can impede objectively reflecting on our experiences. Being mindful of these patterns can help recognize when bias may distort positive aspects of encounters.
Based on the Socratic method, this worksheet asks questions that can either help you communicate ideas to others or root out biases in your thought process.
Meant to be reviewed more in-depth during Part Two, this exercise is an attempt to recognize our immediate reactions may only be one of many possible outcomes.
If you're struggling with depression, this article offers a basic list of things to consider to help tide you over until the next time you're able to see a professional.