I once saw a psychologist who had a ‘therapy dog’.
The purpose of the dog, as far as I could gather, was to provide an alternative avenue for emotional expression. Supposedly, some people find it easier to interact with a dog, than to lie on a couch and tell their life story.
Unfortunately, that particular therapy dog just glared at me for half of the session and then fell asleep.
Given that I was seeking therapy for an overwhelming sense of ‘people glaring at me and then falling asleep’, I naturally found it a bit hard to deal with.
But my experience is not the norm.
Animal-assisted therapy is a genuine thing, and associated with measurable improvements in individuals with autism-spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and poor emotional well-being.
Although not formally assessed, when the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAPS SA) people brought greyhounds to the mid-year exams this year, students loved it. It was a great release of tension during a period of time that has most students feeling pretty anxious.
The good news is they are returning for end-of-year exams as well.
See the advert below.
Note: the particular dog featured in the picture who has a PhD and unnerving ability to use a stethoscope will not be in attendance.