What Takes Place During Animal-assisted Therapy?
Many people seek counselling to process experiences, thoughts and feelings, as well as learn strategies to manage various challenges. However, for some, the thought of speaking to a counsellor can seem pretty daunting. We strive to make counselling a safe and enjoyable experience with the presence of our friendly therapy dogs. As with traditional talk therapy, we use evidenced based techniques including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy in our sessions. At times, we also incorporate elements of Play Therapy in our sessions to help clients express feelings, develop relationships and resolve psychosocial problems.
Depending on the client, our Therapist can lead sessions where our Therapy Dog takes a more passive role by offering their comforting presence, or lead more interactive sessions, where the client gets to participate in activities with our Therapy Dog. These activities serve as a platform for the observation of behaviours that facilitate discussions, enabling one to gain insight on inclinations. They are tailored to help the client gain perspectives related to the challenges that he/she faces. Our Therapist specializes in eliciting relevant learning outcomes through analogies that can be translated, and generalized to life applications.
How Therapy Dogs Help
Reduce stress and anxiety with a corresponding decrease in blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormone cortisol
Increase “health inducing and social inducing” hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins
Provide social support and motivation
Make therapy fun and engaging
Provide immediate feedback and opportunity for clients to practice skill sets and recalibrate
Who Can Benefit?
How is this different from traditional talk therapy or counselling?The goal of the conversations that take place during talk therapy/counselling are similar to Animal-assisted Therapy. The only difference is that sessions will be conducted with the presence of a comforting Therapy Dog or include activities that are facilitated together with a Therapy Dog.
Can I choose not to have a dog in a counselling session?Of course. While we do see a significant difference in how the Therapy Dog helps our Counsellor build rapport more easily with the client, we understand that not everyone appreciates having a Therapy Dog in a counselling session. Clients can always choose traditional talk therapy instead.
How is this different from having a dog as a pet?While any interaction with a sweet-natured dog can induce positive emotions, the interaction on its own does not equip an individual with coping strategies and a different mindset to navigate through life's challenges.
How many counselling sessions are required typically?This varies for different individuals. Some clients achieve their goals within 5-10 sessions, while others take a much longer time. We have also got clients that choose to check in with us regularly even after their emotional/behavioural goals have been achieved.