Paws, claws and more to the rescue
FROM treating addiction to corporate team building, animals are the foundation of Tracy Chapman's new therapy business at Glenreagh.
She has a 20-year career in education and is completing studies in counselling and post graduate Neuroscience and animal assisted psychotherapy.
Along with her team of guinea pigs, chickens, parrots and horses she has established Animal Assisted Growth and Learning Australia operating from her rural property northwest of Coffs Harbour.
"We also have three domestic dogs yet to undergo certification training, but this will be happening very soon so they can also be added to the therapeutic mix."
She says the use of animals to assist with therapy and learning is in its infancy in Australia.
The treatment is based upon building a bond with an animal through interaction and play and is suitable for both adults and children with disability, mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, or chronic illness.
It can also be effective in addiction recovery.
Interaction with animals can provide a sense of peace, purpose, companionship, and love.
"Developing a bond with an animal also promotes self-worth, self-esteem, and trust."
Depending on their needs patients attend her therapy facility at Glenreagh or Tracy can do home visits or meet a client in an open space or park.
She has a growing list of NDIS clients.
It could involve the client adopting a pet to live with at home and working with the client to develop life skills to be able to care for it on a full-time basis.
She says horses in particular make effective therapy animals for children.
"For one thing, they're big. So it becomes immediately apparent to the young person that they are not going to be able to force a horse to do what they want. Instead they are going to have to learn the skills to communicate effectively.
"And being a heard animals means young people begin to learn what it means to be part of a group and how the actions of individuals impact the group."