Izzie has only been working in mental health for 17 months, but in dog years, that makes her a mid-career professional. A basset hound, Izzie is a Certified Therapy Dog through the OhioGuidestone K9 Partners Program. Her owner and partner, Heidi Corso, was recently presented with the Lorain County Board of Mental Health (LCBMH) Director’s Award in recognition of exceptional service to the local mental health network, in part due to her creative use of Izzie in working with children.
“Heidi sees the spark in a child, and connects with that child any way she can to bring out their best future,” says Charles Neff, LCBMH Executive Director. “That’s why she trained Izzie to be a therapy dog. She saw that Izzie is another way to connect positively with children receiving social and emotional support services.”
Corso joined OhioGuidestone in 2007 as an Early Childhood Mental Health Therapist, helping children up to age 6 address trauma, depression, anxiety, ADHD, parent-child attachment, acting out behaviors at home or school, and adoption related issues. This year, Corso was promoted to a supervisor role, overseeing clinical staff, the Incredible Years program, and the School Services program.
Her pet and now partner, Izzie, began training in 2014 to become a Certified Therapy Dog through OhioGuidestone, and became certified through Therapy Dogs International in June 2015. Izzie has become a regular fixture in the Lorain office and with Corso’s clients.
“Heidi Corso is invaluable to our Lorain County programs and she is an exceptionally talented therapist and supervisor,” states Joanna Gioa, OhioGuidestone’s Lorain Director. “Her initiative to devote her time and energy to working with Izzie to become a certified Therapy Assisted Animal has brought a wonderful layer of comfort and support to clients served in Lorain County. It is delightful to see Izzie greet the clients in our waiting room and watch the gentle interchanges that naturally extend through staff and client interactions when she comes to work with Heidi for the day.”
Corso and Izzie were featured this summer in a televised Be Well segment about toxic stress in children.
Colleagues and staff, as well as members of the Board of Mental Health, congratulated Corso on her achievement at the October 27, 2016 LCBMH Board Meeting in Lorain, Ohio.
The Director’s Award was established to acknowledge outstanding efforts in recovery, education, and public awareness for the Lorain County mental health network, and is granted by the Executive Director of the LCBMH on a periodic basis. To learn about this and other award and recognition opportunities within the Lorain County mental health network, visit lcbmh.org/nominate.