Animals as Therapists


We’re proud to provide a range of counselling and mental health services for the community with the support of animals as therapists.

Animal Assisted Therapy is often used to complement traditional methods of counselling and talk therapy. This type of therapy is based on building bonds between people and animals through interaction and play. Interaction with animals can provide people with a sense of purpose, companionship and love.

Horses Helping Humans

Our Reconnect program provides early intervention support for young people who are at risk of becoming homeless or who are sleeping rough. The program aims to reconnect young people with their families and the community through counselling and practical support. Reconnect Port Macquarie (NSW) has been successfully working with local service, Horses Helping Humans for over 12 months.

In that time the Horses Helping Humans program has provided group support to more than 20 young people identified as being at risk of homelessness. The program provides a safe, secure and nurturing environment for participants, helping to build up their resilience and self-confidence.

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Dynamic Duo

In September 2012, Rosalie saw a photo of a rescue dog on a store window. She decided to go just to have a look, but couldn’t resist Aurora’s warm nature, so she adopted her.

It wasn’t long till Rosalie noticed the unique way Aurora interacted with others. She would approach strangers and other dogs at the park to say hello and people would comment on how friendly, calm and well natured she was. Those regular interactions and Rosalie’s belief for caring for others drew her to dog therapy volunteer training.

While in training, Rosalie and Aurora travelled around the country visiting kindergartens, schools, shopping centres, football stadiums and the zoo. Aurora loved every minute and her assessor said “I have yet to meet such an engaging Malamute”. At the end of 2013, the duo begin volunteering at age care facilities
with great results and now frequent the Epworth Hospital.

An EACH caseworker recognised a need for one of her customer and requested a visit from Aurora. These visits continue three years later and the customer has since adopted his own dog with the four of them regularly going for walks and picnics. This was something he hadn’t done for 20 years. Aurora would visit many programs at to support our clients.

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Paws 4 Thought at headspace Knox

Paws 4 Thought is an informal group drop-in session for young people aged 12-25 run by our headspace Knox service. Young people in the Paws 4 Thought group present with a range of mental health and/or physical health challenges. The group provides an opportunity for these young people to experience unconditional acceptance and love from the dogs in a safe and non-judgemental space.

Young people are invited to interact with the dogs free from expectation or pressure to engage in formal talk therapy. Many of the young people who participate in the Paws 4 Thought group have reported benefits for their mental health, improvements in their social interactions and their ability to better manage anxiety and panic attacks.

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