Animal Assisted Therapy

In 2017 WestCASA incorporated Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) into supporting individuals and families impacted by sexual abuse and trauma.

Animal Assisted Therapy can help:

• people feel more comfortable and at ease in coming along to and participating in counselling.
• people express their feelings.
• individuals manage symptoms relating to PTSD and other trauma symptoms.
• provide comfort and reassurance when things feel scary or overwhelming.
• increase empathy and understanding about our impact on others.
• create a more relaxed group dynamic
• provide opportunity for a relationship that is honest and genuine and striped of any social judgement that is so often inherent in human-to-human interactions
• contribute to staff morale and wellbeing and allow an outlet to engage differently within the work space and reconnect with the “lighter” side of life

WestCASA counsellor/advocate Lejla and her Golden Retriever dog Goldie undertook:

– “An Introduction to the Neurobiological Model of Animal-Assisted Therapy” training &
– “Foundations of Animal Assisted Therapy and Therapy Dog Certification” course.

Both courses were delivered by delivered by Lead the Way Psychology and Animal Assisted Therapy & Alpha Canine Professional Dog Training Team.

So what has Goldie been up to?

• Eating carrots.
• Goldie has been a regular part of supporting WestCASA clients on a Monday at one of our Footscray offices. This contact has been within the counselling room as well as offering greetings at the front door and the opportunity for lots of cuddles in the waiting room.
• Goldie is going to be participating in an upcoming support group for women at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre (womens’ prison) focused on understanding and managing the impacts of trauma.
• Goldie is also going to be joining in the Sexual Lives and Healthy Relationships Program which is run for adults with an intellectual disability in the Western suburbs of Melbourne.
• Goldie has become a treasured part of the service and will continue to support the WestCASA community into the future. And, of course, she is planning to get better at her job and continue with her training