Guest Post: Dog Assisted Therapy

Monday, September 3, 2012

Working with a therapist and therapy dog may help clients in many ways:
  • Encourages clients to engage who may be very mistrustful of people
  • Provides unconditional acceptance no matter what your problems might be.
  • Helps clients see things from another point of view, promoting empathy
  • Builds confidence as a well trained dog is easy to control with simple commands leaving the client in charge
  • Helps clients relax, decreasing blood pressure and reducing heart rates
  • Provides great fun and may be the reason hesitant clients want to come for therapy
  • Helps to increase self esteem and motivation through a trusting relationship
  • Can provide exposure for clients who have dog phobias

Meet Max.

Max is no ordinary dog as he is able to assist me with counselling sessions where the client may benefit from some canine companionship.

Max is a German Shepherd dog, who loves playing games, chasing balls, catching frisbees and doing anything that may earn him a biscuit or two!

He will sit, down, stay, catch, find and go to bed on command, he also calmly accepts lots of cuddles and hugs.

Max is trained to Kennel Club Silver standards and has been temperament tested to work with people and is fully insured.

We work with adults, teenagers and young children and families anyone from five years upwards.

Max  is also useful for clients with special needs as he doesn’t get upset if someone grabs his tail or folds his ears down to make him look like a spaniel, he is very tolerant and gentle.

Sam, aged nine years, was frightened of dogs but Max was able to patiently build a relationship of trust by encouraging Sam to throw frisbees for him. Over time Sam became more comfortable with Max and now will stroke, command and play with him. Whilst Sam is still cautious of other dogs, he has learnt that his fear can be overcome.  Sam and his family now have a dog of their own.

Georgina, was just five when she met Max and was initially a bit nervous but it didn’t take long
for Max to persuade Georgina he would make a good best friend and that she should feed him all
the biscuits in the box!

Case studies are published here with kind permission of Sam, Georgina and their parents
Mel Riley is a MBACP Accredited Counsellor, offering man types of counselling services, not just dog assisted therapy.  You can follow her on Twitter at @MJCounselling, keep up with "Mel Riley Counselling" on Face book or visit her website

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