Dog Therapy for Children
Our therapists at Bright Star Counselling are proud to provide dog therapy for children who are struggling with life's big challenges.
Freeman is a Golden Labrador Retriever with a big head, big ears, and the biggest heart you could ever hope to find in a dog. He has been trained to help children feel calm while they talk about difficult feelings. Freeman also assists the therapist teaching about social cues and how to recognize and respond to various body cues. We are so lucky to have his services with us.
Does your family own a pet that your child can't bear to be away from? We love meeting our clients' pets. We have met hedgehogs, snakes, and bunny rabbits.
What is Dog Therapy?
Dog therapy, also known as pet therapy, is fast becoming our clients' favourite form of therapy at Bright Star. It is animal-assisted therapy and activities designed to help children, youth, and families manage trauma and big feelings.
The therapy itself is built upon the concept of the human-animal bond. For many of us, even just saying hello to a friendly animal can produce a calming effect and state of mind.
The effects of dog therapy are best seen when added to your child and family's current therapy plan. It enhances the other forms of therapies we offer at Bright Star.
We are mindful of allergies you and your family may have, as well as children and youth who are afraid of dogs. We always take a good look at our clinic's schedule for the day to see who we have coming. That way, we can make sure everyone is comfortable.
How does it work?
During a session, your child or youth will be asked if they want our handler to bring Freeman into the room. If so, our handler will enter with Freeman, encourage your child/youth to pet Freeman, and they may ask a few additional questions.
Animals can help children stay calm while talking about trauma and difficult emotions, thanks to oxytocin (also known as the "cuddling hormone"). This hormone both soothes and calms the nervous system when cuddling and petting an animal occurs.
Pet therapy is especially helpful in teaching children and youth the concepts of compassion, care, and empathy for other living beings. It's a simple yet effective way to encourage children to be responsible while caring for themselves and for others. Additionally, it helps children build up their senses of self-confidence, connection, and trust, while learning how to set boundaries, how to realize the need for personal space, and how to read social and body cues more easily.
If your child or youth already shows a strong bond with animals, or your family is looking for new ways to self-regulate new challenges and emotions and bring a sense of calm to life, dog therapy can help. Freeman and his handler can provide pet therapy to your child/youth either passively or actively during the sessions.