Animal Assisted Therapy in counselling

Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no question, they pass no criticisms
George Elliot

Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) in counselling incorporates an animal into the counsellors work in order to maximise the therapeutic benefits for the client. I have a therapy dog, named Fudge, who loves attending client counselling sessions and in doing so can add so much therapeutic value. Interventions with Fudge may vary depending on the needs of the individual client. Some clients like Fudge just ‘being there’ during their session and his welcoming presence is an example of what is commonly referred to as Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI).

Other clients may want to incorporate Fudge into their session in order to achieve a specific goal. An example of this could be carrying out some simple obedience exercises with Fudge, which amongst other things can help enhance self esteem. As this would be a goal directed intervention it would be referred to as Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). 

When Fudge is in sessions work with him can often be spontaneous, clients and Fudge often enjoy a game of hide and seek with one of his toys, either at the beginning or end of their session, a particular favourite for Fudge too. Such interventions are commonly known as Animal Assisted Activities (AAA).

In whatever way Fudge takes part in the session, the most important thing he is able to bring is unconditional acceptance. Animals don’t mind who we are, what we may have done or what we look like and alongside this they are completely non-judgemental.

Having an animal present during a therapy session can add to the safe and non-judgemental environment provided by the counsellor. Working alongside an animal, for some clients, also makes it easier to express difficult feelings and experiences.

Counselling sessions with Fudge usually take place in my therapy room in Ramsey as well as during some ‘Walk and talk’ sessions.  However some sessions with him maybe limited,  please contact me for more details.