Why have a dog in session?
A lot of people know intuitively - and research supports - that spending time with dogs and other pets can make us feel better. A therapy dog can bring both physical and emotional benefits. The less physical and emotional stress you are experiencing, the more present and receptive you are to therapy, both immediately and over the longer term.
The emotional benefits include a greater sense of support and connection, including:
- Reduced sense of loneliness
- Easier self-expression
- Increased humor and playfulness
- Decreased feelings of anxiety
- Increased engagement in therapy
- Increased self-acceptance and self-confidence
- Increased sense of safety
The physical benefits include a more soothed and regulated nervous system, including:
- Slower, deeper breathing
- Slower heart rate
- Decreased blood pressure
- Increased muscle relaxation
- Physical comfort from physical connection
In addition to physical and emotional benefits, working with a therapy dog can also assist in exploring and healing interpersonal issues by noticing how they manifest in your relationship with the dog, a context that is very forgiving.
What is it like with a dog in session?
When Nova joins our sessions, her role is to support you. There are various levels of involvement that Nova can have. She can . . .
- Simply be present, to increase your sense of safety or comfort
- Provide physical contact (petting etc.) or a listening ear (sometimes its so much easier to talk to a dog!)
- Participate in occasional games and activities designed to address your therapeutic goals, in addition to other work
- Be the main focus of our work, replacing most talk therapy with dog games and activities
If you're not sure how involved you want Nova to be, we can discuss and explore the options together. We can also change Nova's involvement as we discover together what works best for you.