11th April 2023:
I’ve been meaning to post on this blog for some time now, but struggled to know where to start… Today is National Pet Day, and as we celebrate, l’d like to highlight the contribution that dogs make as co-therapists. Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis was known for his groundbreaking theories and approaches to therapy. While some of his theories have been a bit controversial at times (don’t get me started!) one of the lesser known elements of his approach, and one that I fully embrace was his use of dogs in therapy.
Freud had several dogs throughout his life, including chow chow’s Jofi and Jo-Fi and a miniature dachshund called Lun. He often referred to them as his ‘analysts’ as he believed that with their keen sense of observation, intuition and ability to form strong emotional bonds they were valuable co-therapists. Freud’s dogs would often join him in the consulting room helping patients feel more at ease as they roamed freely. He believed that dogs, with their heightened senses and ability to detect subtle cues, provided valuable clues about his patients inner world.
My two Pomeranians Grizzly and Lily sometimes attend sessions with me, and (Grizzly at least) helps provide a relaxing atmosphere, intuitive understanding of human emotions and a nonjudgmental presence. Lily, as moody as she is, typically provides a sense of comic relief, and that sense of playfulness in sessions is an important balance for the heavier moments. Moments of joy and laughter alongside deeper emotional exploration are fundamental, in my opinion, for making therapy effective: strengthening teamwork, communication and adaptability.
Whether they are naughty (we are looking at you Lily) or nice (Grizzly the Good) dogs have a unique ability to positively impact the physical, emotional and mental well-being of individuals in therapy or at home. Do celebrate National Pet day, by appreciating the therapeutic power of all pets, and the joy and comfort they bring into our lives.