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  • Writer's pictureFiona Owen

The Therapeutic Gift of Animals

Animals can provide immense therapeutic benefit for some people and help them to open up and begin their journey of recovery. My dog Eddie joins me in my therapy room (at his will) with clients I feel would benefit from his presence.

I first experienced being in a therapy room with a dog present when I was doing my Gestalt therapy trainings . One of the trainers used to have her dog present in the room and I found his presence comforting. When my daughter adopted a 2 year old traumatised border collie/ kelpie cross from the local dog refuge called Eddie, I decided to experiment with having him in the room with me while I saw clients.

What I noticed was really interesting in a number of different ways. Firstly I myself felt more relaxed when he was in the room except when he started chewing his paw. I noticed he did this more at different times and I began to see a pattern. Working with trauma is a complex process and as Eddie himself had suffered a traumatic former life he seemed well able to relate to people's suffering. Was his chewing a way of soothing himself I wondered. Was I wrong to expose him to the energy in the room.

Eddie would respond to certain clients in different ways and at different moments. Some clients were more comfortable with him being present than others and that also interested me. Eddie seemed to pick up on their energy and he would react to them either by being alert and showing interest or by curling up and tuning out. The more distressed a client became did not seem to be a determinate as to how Eddie responded, as with some people he would want to go and comfort them and some people he would not want to interact with.

I do not ever make Eddie come into the room with me. He usually seems most happy to help me. Sometimes if I have left the door to my therapy room open with no one in there he goes in and will lay there. It seems to me he wanted to help.

Some clients really liked Eddie's presence. None so far have objected to him being there, although I wonder if they were just being polite. Eddie continues to help me and he makes the sessions richer at least from my perspective. I am able to gain more insights into my clients from having him present.

I only bring Eddie into sessions with clients I have met at least once before, to ensure that the environment will be suitable for him. If you are interested in booking asession with me and would like Eddie to join us please contact me via or phone/ text message 0409995411.

We look forward to meeting you!

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