Juno, our Therapy Support Dog in training, is in school on a Wednesday and is very popular on the football field. As well as enjoying running around with the boys, Juno often provides moments of reflection and an opportunity for different types of interactions within which, the capacity for empathic responses is supported and nurtured. Unlike humans, animals don’t judge or criticize. Their presence can help soften the defences of an anxious, distrusting, and emotionally blocked child or young person, making treatment more effective.
Similarly, Tom’s Farm provides learners, who may otherwise struggle to engage in therapy, with a less threatening environment. Feeling calmer and safer whilst interacting with the animals, anxious learners can begin to build a relationship with their therapist. Through the observation of life on the farm, learners can begin to explore their own thoughts and feelings, accessing useful metaphors that will allow them to maintain a safe psychological and emotional distance. Therapy at the farm can often be a precursor to moving into a more intense therapeutic modality once that the therapeutic relationship has been established.