At NBP, some of our Psychologists bring their pets to work! At our Stafford Heights offices, you can sit in your therapist’s office with either a friendly dog or cat, depending on who you see. Our main therapy cat is Nellie. Her breed is an Australian Mist – a breed designed for their calm temperaments. She is very placid and loves cuddles.
Her partner in crime is Blacky, a big floppy black pussycat who loves cuddles. People often comment that he looks like a small panther or like he would have belonged to Cleopatra! Blacky is incredibly placid and friendly. If you see Rachel at her Stafford Hts office, and you enjoy cats, ask her to fetch Nellie or Blacky for you.
If dogs are more your style, then at our Ringrose St office in Stafford Heights you can bunk in with Morrie, a mischievous Moodle. Morrie is Lynne Rodger’s dog who lives at Ringrose St. Morrie is hypoallergenic and does not shed. He is very friendly and loving, and likes children and teens. He may accidentally lick you on meeting!
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) began in the 1990s and thus is a relatively new field. Since then, it has grown in popularity, has gained wide acceptance and is evolving into mainstream psychology. This is evident in the increasing number of universities, such as the University of North Texas, that offer a graduate course in AAT.
While none of us at NBP have university training in AAT, just the presence of animals themselves in the room can be soothing for some people, and can more quickly build rapport between therapist and client. Research has showed a significant drop in stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and aldosterone and an increase in “health inducing and social inducing” hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins after 20 minutes with a therapy animal.
Experts in this field, such as Cynthia Chandler, point out that therapy animals have also returned the benefits of touch to counselling. Touch has been understandably removed from psychotherapy, but at a cost. Therapy animals provide a nonjudgmental space for individuals to work out their problems. Chandler says, “Animals do not prejudge you. They don’t know that you’ve had a messy divorce. They don’t know that you’re dealing with childhood sexual abuse. There are no conflicts with animals.”
Sometimes it is the physical touch with an animal or perhaps it is just the sheer presence of an animal that helps. But either way, their acceptance and admirable ability to express themselves without holding anything back makes animal-assisted therapy powerful for some clients.
Call our Director, Dr Rachel, on 0478 789321 to discuss options.