Animal Assisted Therapy

 

 

The Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)

 

Animal Assisted Therapy is an incredibly effective form of therapy and is about a lot more than gaining the benefits of having a dog present in the room while you talk to your therapist. It is a specialised therapeutic approach which uses deliberate, purposeful interventions where the therapy dog is incorporated into the session in a range of different ways to address your specific needs. Research has shown that when AAT is used appropriately there are a multitude of benefits to the client including:

  • Improved mood and reduced feelings of depression
  • A decrease in the body’s stress responses
  • Increased feelings of safety in counselling for children and teens
  • A comforting presence leading to increased feelings of relaxation
  • Reduction of blood pressure, stress and anxiety (not related to animal phobias)
  • Support of expression for those struggling with standard “talk therapies”
  • Increased skills in emotion recognition
  • Increased skills in social interactions and motivation
  • Reduced feelings of aggression
  • Enhanced self-esteem and self-worth
  • Improved communication within the therapeutic sessions aiding outcomes and personal growth
  • Enhanced rapport between therapist and client and improved engagement in therapy
  • Increased emotional regulation, self-awareness and empathy
animal assisted therapy dogs

Animal Support

Historically, including animals in therapy was thought to be largely ‘feel-good’ in nature, however, research has shown there to a be multitude of much deeper benefits for the client.

Research shows that AAT is effective in increasing positive social behaviours and decreasing behaviour problems, enhancing self- esteem and decreasing depression and anxiety, enhancing psychophysiological health and healing, increasing motivation to participate in counselling and has a calming effect which increases a sense of safety. 

Animals have been shown to meet the human needs of attention, affection and connection with others, resulting in positive effects on the nervous system, reducing stress and anxiety in the body to promote communication and improve rational thinking and problem-solving.

About the Team

Our Lead Therapist, Anita, combines quality therapy with her fully trained and certified therapy dogs Bacardi and Kaluah, engaging her clients through delivering a therapeutic team of self, client and therapy dog.

Anita first began the process of certification for both herself and 4-year-old Labrador Bacardi in 2019 after noticing a natural longing for Bacardi to offer comfort to others. Anita recognised that these innate skills demonstrated by Bacardi, when combined with her experience of working successfully with adults and children who have experienced trauma, could offer children, young people and adults a meaningful and highly valuable therapeutic experience.

Since the beginning of Insight Therapies: Child & Adult Counselling in early 2020, Bacardi’s daughter Kaluah has also completed her certification and now joins the team with her gentle nature and her willingness to share her calm to promote positive emotional experiences for those who work with her.

Anita and Bacardi Therapy dog
Anita and Bacardi Therapy dog

About the Team

Our Lead Therapist, Anita, combines quality therapy with her fully trained and certified therapy dogs Bacardi and Kaluah, engaging her clients through delivering a therapeutic team of self, client and therapy dog.

Anita first began the process of certification for both herself and 4-year-old Labrador Bacardi in 2019 after noticing a natural longing for Bacardi to offer comfort to others. Anita recognised that these innate skills demonstrated by Bacardi, when combined with her experience of working successfully with adults and children who have experienced trauma, could offer children, young people and adults a meaningful and highly valuable therapeutic experience.

Since the beginning of Insight Therapies: Child & Adult Counselling in early 2020, Bacardi’s daughter Kaluah has also completed her certification and now joins the team with her gentle nature and her willingness to share her calm to promote positive emotional effects for those who work with her.

Bacardi, Animal Assisted Therapy Dog

Bacardi

Bacardi is a strong and independent female with a grounding presence and the ability to make you feel secure and safe even when you feel like your world is spinning. Clients who have worked with Bacardi often say that they feel calm and understood when she is around and that they couldn’t imagine therapy without her.

She has a deep understanding of what is happening for clients, even when they may not be fully aware themselves. She is often the first to bring awareness to a client’s internal struggle by putting a paw on their leg or her nose up to their face, causing the session to pause so that we can notice and settle whatever is happening internally for that client.

Bacardi’s intuitive nature helps her share her wisdom with us every day, but she can also be quite stubborn and cheeky at times with a playful side too. Children love her and she has been pivotal for many in learning how to set personal boundaries and in recognising the boundaries of others. She is loyal and is always excited to see you, showing off her favourite toys (but very rarely sharing!) and nuzzling close for a pat. She has ears like velvet and eyes that are as deep as the ocean making her one of the most amazing and beautiful dogs you will ever meet.

Kaluah

Although only young, Kaluah is a beautiful and gentle soul. She loves nothing more than to rest her head on your knee and be close, offering friendship and comfort. She needs little more than to feel loved and enjoys being patted and cuddled by those big and small. She is always happy to sit by your side and has a face that is full of expression, often showing what can only be described as a big, beautiful and contagious grin!

Kaluah is gentle, and not as confident as her mum Bacardi, so when we teach her new skills we have to be mindful of giving clear instructions and allowing her some extra time so she doesn’t feel overwhelmed or confused. Helping Kaluah learn can be a very useful experience for some clients who also struggle with confidence or find it difficult to communicate. She shows them that its ok to feel anxious, to struggle to express yourself or to understand others and that with a little extra help you can learn and experience new and exciting things.

Kaluah loves to help people see and feel their own value and is happiest when she can see that you feel safe and comforted. She is always happy to lay beside you, sharing her calm and offering a little smile to make you feel at ease.

Kahlua Therapy Dog
Kahlua Therapy Dog

Kaluah

Although only young, Kaluah is a beautiful and gentle soul. She loves nothing more than to rest her head on your knee and be close, offering friendship and comfort. She needs little more than to feel loved and enjoys being patted and cuddled by those big and small. She is always happy to sit by your side and has a face that is full of expression, often showing what can only be described as a big, beautiful and contagious grin!

Kaluah is gentle, and not as confident as her mum Bacardi, so when we teach her new skills we have to be mindful of giving clear instructions and allowing her some extra time so she doesn’t feel overwhelmed or confused. Helping Kaluah learn can be a very useful experience for some clients who also struggle with confidence or find it difficult to communicate. She shows them that its ok to feel anxious, to struggle to express yourself or to understand others and that with a little extra help you can learn and experience new and exciting things.

Kaluah loves to help people see and feel their own value and is happiest when she can see that you feel safe and comforted. She is always happy to lay beside you, sharing her calm and offering a little smile to make you feel at ease.

Insight Therapies: Child and Adult Counselling is the first and only canine-assisted therapy team in the Albury Wodonga area and have been featured for their support to those in need by Prime7 news, The Border Mail and ABC Goulburn radio. Read More.

Parent Intake Sessions

Any referrals received for children will require a parent session prior to our therapist beginning work with your child. This session will help us understand what is happening for your child and what has brought you to the point of reaching out for help.

Traumatised people really benefit from having an animal there in the room with them. This calms the survival part of the brain down to allow space for them to process their trauma.

Dr Bessel van der Kolk

2020