Groot is the latest member to join the GP down south mental health team. We are extremely lucky to have both Groot and his human Jade Marklew on our Primary Mental Health team. Groot is joining in counselling sessions when invited as a therapy dog. A key factor in therapy success is the trust between therapist and the client. Animals often facilitate this trust. If you’ve ever felt comforted by a family pet, you’ve had a glimpse into the benefits of animal-assisted therapy. A Therapy Dog is a dog which has been trained with their handler (usually their owner), to provide therapeutic intervention to another person in the community. Animal-assisted therapy is using an animal as part of goal-oriented therapy sessions. There are psychological and physiological benefits to animal-assisted therapy. The role they play is different to service animals. Service animals are trained to perform specific tasks for a specific person with conditions that are challenging to manage. Therapy animals are handled by a human but are providing therapy or education to a third person or party. Jade and Groot will be facilitating Animal Assisted Therapy within the mental health program during individual counselling sessions initially. This will happen on a Friday at the Busselton office and clients have the choice to opt in. Jade and Groot have completed their Animal Assisted Therapy Training through Therapy Dogs Australia (TDA). TDA are one of Australia's only Therapy Dog & Handler Courses supported by Animal Therapies Ltd. This course is run by professionals (Psychologists, OT, Teacher, Guidance Counsellor, Teacher) with years of experience working, researching and teaching in this industry. This Therapy Dog & Handler training course has been designed to equip handlers and their dog with the skills required to work together in an animal-assisted therapy setting. The primary goal that the dog and client are both safe and enjoy their experiences together. Groot has learned all about obedience, manners and canine body language to specific animal assisted intervention training. In addition to being a source of comfort and pleasant distraction, Groot creates a talking point to spark engagement. His key strengths lie in reducing cortisol (stress hormone) and promoting oxytocin, serotonin & endorphins - all the feel good hormones and chemicals which reduce stress and promote a sense of wellbeing.
GP down south is an exemplary not-for-profit community organisation. We have been providing health and wellbeing services in the Peel regions and the South West of WA since 1994.