Animal Assisted Therapy

CoRe Counselling is proud to be a provider of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) with three professionally trained and assessed therapy dogs, Cookie, Pebbles and Coco.

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a therapeutic treatment based upon building a bond with an animal through interaction and play.  AAT is suitable for all ages and can be particularly effective supporting adolescents develop strategies to address their concerns or mental health issues including:

  • Anxiety and fears
  • Depression
  • Anger management
  • Low self-esteem
  • Positive thinking and communication
  • Family conflict and sibling rivalry
  • Friendships, relationships and bullying
  • Emotion regulation

Interaction with animals can provide a sense of peace, purpose, companionship, and love.

Developing a bond with an animal also promotes self-worth, self-esteem, and trust.

As animals are non-judgemental and provide unconditional love, they assist in increasing engagement and rapport between therapist and client. Research has shown that having animals within the therapeutic space can reduce anxiety, increase relaxation and social interaction.  Depending on the client, the dogs will be in the therapy room or in different settings such as parks or recreational environments.

How does AAT work?

Communication between dogs and a client with social difficulties is easier than communicating with other people. Dogs, unlike people, communicate through body language alone. Animals have the unique ability to provide immediate feedback regarding a person’s mood, behaviour and method of communication. For example, if a child is making loud noises and movement, the dog might shy away from this and may show a level of discomfort, however, once the child calms down, the dog then may proceed to show affection once again.

Alternatively, a high energy client might struggle to have a calm and quiet interaction with a high energy dog, until they themselves are calm which can then encourage the dog to be calm also.  In such situations, both innovative and traditional therapeutic approaches uncover issues which provide the backdrop to the development of coping strategies, and as a result promotes positive thought and emotional changes.

Who would benefit from AAT?

A unique bond with an animal can help children develop traits such as respect, empathy, patience, acceptance, confidence, assertiveness, and responsibility.  The unspoken communication between child and animal can foster verbal and nonverbal communication skills in the child. These attributes can help children maintain secure and mutually respectful relationships during difficult times in their lives.

Adolescents and young children can experience dramatic improvements in interpersonal relationships with Animal-Assisted Therapy.  For example, young children who struggle to express physical and emotional comfort or closeness with others, may more readily form that type of bond with a dog, which then translates positively to human relationships.  Using the same approaches, AAT has also proven to provide therapeutic benefits to elderly people experiencing difficulties with ageing and independent living.

Pebbles our Great Dane is beautifully big in size, expression and heart. Naturally gentle, albeit goofy, she has the gift of disarming people with her presence and demeanour.

Coco is a loving therapy dog! She is an attentive Cocker Spaniel who always seems to know who needs a special cuddle, and delivers those without fear nor favour.

Cookie is Coco’s brother from the same litter, whose has a more cheeky and playful behaviour. He is always affectionate and provides fun companionship.