19 September 2018
From May 2018 RASAC is introducing AAT as part of its range of services. Here is some information regarding AAT and about its use as part of our counselling options.
The benefits of AAT … general observations of a variety of therapy sessions which have used AAT indicate the presence of an animal can make sessions more pleasurable and productive and improve therapeutic outcome for some clients. Some clients just find it easier to have something else in the room as a focus when having their face to face counselling sessions some of which can be hard especially in the initial few sessions.
Studies have shown human-animal interaction favourably impacts on the level of blood lipids, glucose which influence the bodies’ own production of substances which both boost the immune system, relieve pain and generate an overall sense of well-being. Whether patting or stroking a dog or just having the dog in the room appears to be both comforting and heightens awareness, both of which seem to lead to a feeling of overall contentment.
Many clients have low self- esteem due to their experiences and have low self-confidence. Contact with animals has been demonstrated to improve self-esteem and self-worth both at the time and in the longer term.
“A therapy dog may be the first creature who has listened and responded to the client with enthusiasm and compassion. This can result in the client feeling heard and important.”
THE UNCONDITIONAL AFFECTION FACTOR
People generally feel that to receive affection and to be loved they have to give something in return and there are often conditions attached. For many of our clients who have experienced sexual violence or abuse such conditions, especially if childhood related experiences bring back unwanted negative memories. A trained therapy dog, much like most dogs, gives unconditional affection and this can engender a feeling of happiness and release endorphins which in turn help well-being and can relax clients.
IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE
Not everyone wants or is suitable for AAT. Not everyone likes animals or wants the distraction of an animal in the session. Some people have allergies to animal hair and animals itself. Not everyone has positive regard or experiences of animal interactions, and could, in fact, associate an animal with a flashback or their unwanted sexual experiences.
Here is our dog!! … Ruben … and his trainer Caroline.
You can see how happy he is with his trainer in one of our counselling rooms.
ABOUT … RUBEN
Ruben is used to being in many different environments and has been to many meetings and even to the court !. He is a black Labrador and like all dogs often can be seen asleep and dreaming of the many things he is chasing! Of course, he loves dog treats!
ABOUT OUR TRAINER / COUNSELLOR
Caroline is an experienced and qualified dog therapy trainer and has previously worked with horses in therapy, especially with learning disability clients and young people. Ruben has been with Caroline since he was a puppy. Caroline is one of our counsellors here at RASAC.
To book Animal Assisted counselling you need to refer yourself via the enquiry form on this website and by completing an e-mail enquiry.
Call our Advice & Support Line on 01962 868 688 or 01962 864 433
Anonymous SMS Text helpline service: 07860 027 793
Available 24 hours
"I’ve been struggling with my trauma for over 6 years and Amanda has been so supportive and comforting in how she approached my recovery. She’s taught me how to rediscover myself and work on how to change the way I acknowledge what happened to me and how I am able to change the way it is affecting me in everyday life. I’ve put her advice into action and I’m overwhelmed with the results. Amanda is a true credit to RASAC and I’m eternally grateful for her help."
"Counselling at RASAC has helped me to feel more confident in myself and that I am a worthy person in this world."
"The counselling was exactly what I needed. I found the whole experience very eye opening and can now walk away with a whole new level of confidence and happiness."
"I have gained a new understanding of what happened to me. I am feeling better and my thinking is more positive."
"I am now in control of my thoughts and my life. I have gained self-confidence in so many ways and I am no longer haunted by the past."
"I have been given the tools to cope with everyday life. Without counselling I would have continued to deny my situation and feelings which was having extreme detrimental effect on myself, family and friends… RASAC has saved me from self destruction without the support I would have crumbled – a true life saver."
"My RASAC counselling has completely changed my life… I am a better mother, a more involved member of the community and I am able to keep myself safe."
"I was counselled for almost a year. I had a wonderful counsellor who helped me through a very difficult and unpleasant time in my life. It has been a process of healing by revisiting past places which at one time felt unimaginable. The journey has been raw and unnerving but slowly I came to see how I was repairing my damaged self. I finally accepted ownership of what had happened to me and was able to let go of my guilt and shame. My counsellor understood my outlook on life and created a connection with me that was very special. I eventually looked forward to my session as a weekly debrief rather than a purge. I am as happy and confident as I have ever been and I tell people about what I have learnt to help turn their negativity into positivity. Fear can be a very powerful emotion and prevent us from moving on in our lives but once it is confronted the clouds separate and you can focus on that hint of sunshine."
"Thank-you for the support, for the first time since talking about the sexual abuse to someone it is really helping me."
"Thank you so much for all your time and support while I was working through all of the stuff that happened - I really couldn't have done it without your help and input." Male client - June 2021