Furry staff members: Dogs at headspace Hawthorn
By Chris Yeo
These two perfect things are making a massive impact on the lives of families and children through Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT).
Jim Dellis has a history of work in adolescent counselling and family therapy. With the inclusion of Ruby and Ziggy into his therapy, Jim can ease the nerves or unease some people may have when undergoing therapy.
"AAT is the incorporation of animals, in this case dogs, as therapeutic agents into counselling. [It] promotes positive human-dog interactions… [as] the animal contributes to the client's recovery process."
Ziggy and Ruby have both been accredited as Therapy Animals with Lead the Way Institute
Benefits of AAT can include clients becoming more motivated to attend therapy sessions, experiencing soothing comfort and genuine acceptance, and a shifting of focus away from stress thanks to the ever-loving presence of the dog. Furthermore, clients (such as those with autism) are also able to perform tasks and achieve goals that they wouldn't normally be able to do thanks to the assistance and motivation of the therapy dog.
AAT isn't therapy in-and-of-itself but in fact a way of altering the dynamics of the existing therapy process in several productive ways.