Dog-assisted Therapy in School Counselling
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The purpose of this inquiry is to explore the use of animals, in particular dogs, in my own practice as a school counsellor. Animal-assisted therapy has been defined as the presentation of an animal in counselling with the intention of providing a positive impact on an individual’s health or well-being (Friesen, 2009). The use of animal-assisted therapy in schools is not common practice, likely because of medical concerns such as infectious disease, allergies, and trauma resulting from bites or kicks (Beck & Meyers, 1996; Friesen, 2009). This inquiry is focused on the use of dogs within a school counselling setting. It explores three themes: the therapy dog’s ability to reduce anxiety in a counselling setting for children, the use of therapy dogs to facilitate the relationship between the counsellor and the student, and finally, the benefits the therapy dog provides for the counselling team. Dogs in the counselling office may improve and expedite relationship building between a counsellor and client by reducing anxiety in children entering a counselling environment. This could in turn benefit counsellors by enhancing their overall efficiency and productivity in the school.