Bramble and Laurel are six-year-old female Cockapoos with three years training and over five years’ experience working alongside me in my counselling practice.
Obedience training began at 8 weeks old under guidance of an experienced professional dog trainer and behaviourist. A lot of time has been invested in them being widely socialized to a broad range of people, other animals and environments.
Part of their initial training included regular visits into Coal Clough Academy in Burnley. I am grateful to the pupils and staff, who have been part of their training and socialising process. They have taken to it easily as they wander the classroom, taking time for a cuddle or to shake paws for a treat, or enter into a game. Since then, they have gone from strength to strength, working regularly in a number of main stream, but mostly special provision schools.
They were socialised into the counselling room environment by the generosity of many of my supervisees. Here they learned that this is a different environment and a place of work where they remain attentive to the client and to me. Over time we have developed our communication and I have learned to trust and understand their responses and reactions towards clients and they have learned to trust and understand my lead. The effect has been quite profound.
Part of my training was in gaining a qualification as an Animal Assisted Therapy Practitioner and in time spent working with professional dog trainers and behaviourists, but more importantly the ongoing day to day learning through observation, reflection and experience over the last six years.
All this said, I wasn’t quite prepared for the therapeutic impact of these two little beings on my life. The everyday time spent outside, the funny antics and hilarious moments at home and on our walks (They make me laugh out loud every day), the never-ending supply of cuddles and affection and their constant joy every single time they see me even when I’m having an ‘off’ day. They have done much to improve my health and quality of life and the experience of learning to work together as a team is utterly awe-inspiring, fascinating, humbling, and moving and another wonderful learning curve which I didn’t expect this far into my working life
If you would like more information or you would like to explore how Bramble and Laurel may help in your own situation, please contact me.
A therapy dog is not an assistance dog: those are trained for specific tasks such as to help with sight or hearing, to indicate the onset of seizures, to support an autistic child, etc. "Therapy dog" is a general term to describe a dog that is used to benefit people in a therapeutic way. This may be simply as a result of their calming and de-stressing presence or their unconditional acceptance being experienced as nurturing. Their ability to pick up on mood and to respond empathically is uncanny and much more finely tuned than that of a human.
Within counselling the following benefits have been identified:
Within a school setting the following benefits have been identified: