Quentin Is My Teacher
I have a new co-therapist. He is my 6 month old Golden Doodle, Quentin. He is attending both individual and couples sessions. I have realized so many benefits of having Quentin in the therapy room. There is research that has proven that petting a dog can create an automatic relaxation response which reduces stress. Animals can create a sense of safety that allows people to open up in therapy and share vulnerable feelings (https://goo.gl/oQphcd). Although canine assisted therapy is not for everyone, I can see in such a short amount of time the immense benefits to having Quentin in the room.
Quentin is my teacher. I’m learning a lot from him in this process as a therapist:
- Quentin has shown me that despite the struggles and pain that my clients often have, he can make them smile just by being present. The amount of attention and joy this little one is bringing to the office lights people up when they first see him (he is quite adorable). This is another reminder that even through pain, there are still moments of “ok-ness” and some joy. People are so very resilient!
- Silence is healing. Although Quentin is special, he does not speak, so one of the additional things I’ve witnessed is how a calming presence is healing in and of itself. Because he is quite calm in the office, I have noticed myself slowing down and allowing more silence in my therapy sessions. Powerful!
- Quentin takes care of himself. He is still a puppy; so although he’s not hyper in temperament, he does tend to move around the office quite a bit. He will lay down for a while, then go sleep on his bed, then go chew a toy, then go sit by a client. He does what he needs to do. As I’ve watched this, I have been reminded of asking myself, “what do I want and what do I need right now”? I also invite my clients to move as needed in session. Some need to stand when emotions get strong, some need to move positions or move closer to their partner. This small example of empowering the client to do what they need in session can propel them forward to take care of themselves.
- Thanks to Quentin I take better care of myself. I have been going outside to take him out a few times a day. This is such a blessing because it gives me a chance to breathe fresh air, to reconnect with nature, and to get grounded and centered before returning to my work. Now, whether he is with me or not, I have been going outside even for a minute or two and it makes a huge difference in my day. Try it!
So, whether you are a dog person or not, these life lessons can come in handy. Get fresh air and go outside if you can; notice how puppies/kittens/babies can bring you out of your pain, even if for a minute; allow silence at times; and take care of yourself. Thank you to Quentin for being one of my teachers. I look forward to continuing to see how he can create healing for my clients at Therapy With Heart.