Starting in Spring of 2019, Mercy Cares will be introducing a series of wellness workshops for the animal welfare and rescue community in the Greater Houston Area. Stay tuned!


Our partner, Christen Engel, LMFT, has been running these groups at Creekside Pet Care Center and Sunset Animal Hospital since the beginning of 2018. The sessions are designed to provide mental health support, help staff develop healthy coping skills, and increase team cohesion. After 14 years of experience working in the veterinary field (1 year in the kennel, 5 years of reception, and 8 years as a tech), Christen is able to tailor these groups to more effectively meet the unique needs of the staff.

Topics we have covered are:

  • Stress management
  • Burnout/compassion fatigue
  • Self-care strategies
  • De-escalating conflict
  • Radical acceptance
  • Mindfulness
  • Healthy boundaries
  • Empathic listening
  • Anxiety management
  • Stressors related to the field
  • Self-worth

In addition, we always try to incorporate discussion questions intended to address the negativity bias (our brain’s way of focusing on everything we don’t like in life, while glossing past the naturally occurring good things). As we build relationships with the staff, it makes it easier to follow up on intentions they have set in previous sessions and to check in on their progress over time. After every group, we have them fill out a feedback form so that we can get a sense of their experience of the meeting and address any specific topics they request in future groups.

We believe these groups are especially important for those working in the animal field because of how demanding and challenging the work can be. We often put the wellbeing of others (both human and animal alike) before our own, when in fact caring for ourselves is absolutely essential if we want to be effective at what we do. After all, no matter what your friends say, this job is about so much more than just snuggling puppies and kittens all day.

With Mercy Cares, Christen is excited to bring this important work to the broader animal welfare and rescue community in Houston.

About Christen Engel, LMFT:

“I believe that we have the ability to choose to grow through what we go through, but many times it’s easier said than done. We can get weighed down by things like self-doubt, negative beliefs, irrational fears, self-destructive behaviors, and the like. It is my job to help you push the ‘pause button’ on life, reflect on where you’ve been, and then empower you to take control of where you want to go.”

LMFT-Associate Texas license #: 202890

Misti Sparks PhD, LMFT-Supervisor Texas license #: 201137

Licensing verification can be found here:

Training In Progress

I am currently training my puppy, Gretta, to one day become my work partner. She will be able to provide animal assisted therapy services once she becomes certified. Follow her journey on Instagram: @gretta_makesyoufeel_betta