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Who would have thought to have a dog in the therapy room has so many benefits?
When we look at counselling, we conjure up thoughts about what's it like, there are so many different types of therapy, which one would suit me, will it work, should I go with a counsellor who is integrative and uses different approaches and models or a counsellor who only uses one approach. Would you consider a counsellor who uses a dog as an aide in the therapy room?
What are the benefits of Animal Assisted Interventions?
Animal-assisted interventions aim is to encourage physical and mental well-being. This type of intervention is currently being used in a variety of organisations and environments including care homes, schools, hospitals, prisons and the counselling sector.
This type of therapy can also help people with emotional and behavioural problems who find it hard to express themselves. Having an animal can take the focus of them and can help the client explore emotional experiences or feelings that are otherwise difficult to talk about.
Myself and my Co-Therapist
Animals are non-judgemental, live in the here and now and don't mind what you look like and accept you just the way you are. I find having a dog in the therapy room helps clients to understand boundaries, the dog is very good at self-soothing, taking themselves away from situations they are not comfortable in.
So how would a dog help me?
Having a dog in the therapy room has many benefits, the client can learn from the dog's behaviour, they can also mirror how the client is feeling. Enabling me a way to assess the client's interaction with the dog. Can they recognise any factors in their own self and behaviours, what is that like for them?
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Caring for the animal, caring for yourself
- Social interaction
- Develop relationships
- Improve your mood
Working with domestic abuse this type of therapy helps give the client a better understanding of trust, touch, caring for themselves and self-respect as the dog is being non-judgemental. This is a safe way for them to explore their thoughts and feelings without being criticised or judged.
Taking the dog outside
Having the dog in the therapy room is great but you may want to go outside for a walk. Not everyone is comfortable in the counselling room, so going outside and exploring has its benefits.
So, I offer a different approach to counselling, outside could restore calm, inspire and uplift us. Having gentle exercise outdoors in a natural environment with fresh air can be beneficial.
Having the dog beside you can help with social isolation or anxiety, lift your mood, motivate and uplift us. Having the dog also makes us slow down as they stop to smell the flowers, trees etc, this is a time for self-reflection or even mindfulness as we all live such busy lives at times.