I am delighted to announce that I have a new partner: a professional therapy dog. After graduating from our training and passing the behavioral test, Nova and I were approved and registered as a professional therapy dog team in July 2015 by Professional Therapy Dogs of Colorado.
Nova and I have been meeting with clients together in my Boulder, CO office for the past few months. I’m pleased to report that it’s going well! I am finding that including Nova often helps my clients relax into our work more easily. Some clients love to pet her (she’s a huge fan of belly rubs) or give her treats. Clients have involved Nova in their work in several creative ways. She has listened to poems, learned new tricks, and provided loving and comfort during tough times.
I have added an About Nova page and an Animal Assisted Counseling page to my website at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check it out if you are interested in learning more about Nova and/or how she and I work together with clients. I also hope to write more here about animal assisted therapy, so stay tuned!
Nova is a particularly helpful dog for the work that I do, in part because, like most of my clients, she has survived some pretty bad experiences. Nova came to my family with a bullet lodged in one knee, and a strong fear that she would be kicked. Although she has become more and more relaxed and calm as she has settled into my family and bonded with us, she still has an overactive startle response to large movements and loud noises.
Despite her rough beginning, Nova is so sweet and friendly that it took no time for her to become a big part of the family and partner in my work. We’ve already worked through some rookie mistakes (for example, scheduling sessions at dusk, which Nova believes is time for her evening walk). Nova now attends approximately half of my sessions.
If you have any questions about Animal Assisted Counseling or would like to know more about Nova, let me know in the comments!