Dr. Nicole Gehl
B.A., PGDip CBTcyp, M.A., J.D., Adv.Dip.Ex.Psych, DProf.
BABCP, MBACP (Accred), UKCP registered
Psychotherapy and Counselling in St. Johns Wood

What's an Emotional Support Dog?

Grizzly and Lily are my Pomeranian puppies that sometimes serve as emotional support dogs in sessions.

I've found that the presence of emotional support dogs in therapy sessions can open a channel of emotionally safe, non-threatening communication between client and therapist, easing tension in situations that can be stressful. For adults and children alike, interaction with animals may increase self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as assist in the development of empathy and help develop nurturing skills. Psychologically, when a person nurtures, his or her own need to be nurtured is being fulfilled. Humans rely on touch to feel connection, for bonding and sensory input. The touch of an animal can be safe, non-threatening and pleasant, particularly for survivors of abuse who might not otherwise have experienced positive, appropriate physical contact. Children often view the dogs as their peers, and feel comfortable talking to or projecting their feelings onto them. With the therapy dog, "what you see is what you get," they live in the here and now, and offer unconditional love and acceptance.


      
      
      
      
      
      
      
      
      
      
      
      
      

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