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NEW WEBINAR – “Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling”

8 January, 2013

I have great pleasure in announcing that our new webinar series “Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling” will be starting Friday 1st February at 19:00 (GMT)!

This first webinar is ABSOLUTELY FREE!!

During the session, we will look at the basic definitions, concepts and ideas behind Animal Assisted Therapy & the closely related Animal Assisted Activities. At the end of the session you will have an understanding of the differences between these two terms, which are often confused and misused!

I will also be talking about what you can look forward to in the next 5 weeks of our webinar course! (Subsequent sessions are priced at £15/ $25 and are payable via Paypal. Those attending all subsequent 5 webinars will be refunded £10 after their completion.)

If you’d like to join and find out more about this amazing field, please register below:

http://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=E951D78883493C

I look forward to welcoming you on the course!

Kathryn & Flossie

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There’s no time like the present!

30 December, 2012

Well it’s been far too long since I updated the blog but the diary has been chocka block for quite a few months! Finding the time to have a bath has been challenging and I felt that the general public would approve more of an ‘abluted’ representative for HumAnima CIC rather than a frazzled one!

Where to begin though! I’ve had several meetings with a few organisations to discuss the possibility of working with them to deliver courses and therapy programmes. Finance continues to be an issue for the majority of them but there are a few who know that it is wise to invest in NEW opportunities especially in hard times like these and so 2013 will hopefully include new partnerships and collaborations with some really forward-thinking organisations!

Perhaps I should have started with our biggest achievement of 2012 though…? In November I put in an entry for HumAnima CIC for the Social Enterprise West Midlands Awards. I entered us into Prima award, which was the award for innovation. It was a very short turnaround time for shortlisting and notification but we were quickly informed that we had been shortlisted! Now to be shortlisted, was an achievement in itself as we were up against many other entries (I can’t remember the exact number. Must check!) so that put a smile on my face. Unfortunately, the date of the award ceremony clashed with a previous engagement I had to deliver a Pets As Therapy visit but thankfully I was able to rearrange that for February. On the night in question, our category had 4 entrants a few of whom I was already aware of and knew were fantastic and indeed innovative social enterprises! It was an honour to be considered alongside them – Start Again CIC and Miss Macaroon were the two that received Highly Commended awards and at that point I held my breath… I was ecstatic (and quite wobbly on my legs!) when HumAnima CIC was chosen and awarded the Social Enterprise West Midlands 2012 Prima Award by Price Waterhouse Coopers!

PwC had this to say for the award – “Highlighting a business that innovates beyond all expectations, HumAnima CIC displayed a unique concept with a sustainable idea that can be taken forward in the future.

So as you can see, we’ve finally achieved success and recognition and were honoured to receive it from such a prestigious body. A step in the right direction one might say 🙂

But now, Christmas has passed (and I hope you all had a joyous one!) and the New Year is upon us. Many of us are working on our new years resolutions (my list is going to be long…) and my plans for HumAnima CIC are extensive. This is going to very much be a “doing” and “achieving” year. Time to put HumAnima CIC on the map. Which reminds me – on the same day as the Award ceremony, I had a wonderful injection of hope. A lady, whom I’d never met before was introduced to me, upon which she said “Oh you’re the lady from HumAnima CIC!”! It’s times like that that remind me that all the hard work that is going in, will reap rewards! However, I must add that I am not doing this for prestige, money or fame. Not in the slightest. My motivation is to infuse people with the same passion and enthusiasm that I have for safe and beneficial interaction with animals (amongst other things!).

So now, I have to kickstart my mojo and start planning for 2013 and pull out all the stops. You have a LOT to look forward to in 2013:

–  NEW WebinarAn Introduction to Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling. This will be a 6 week course (1hr a week for 6 weeks) whereby participants will learn the ideas behind incorporating Animal Assisted Therapy into Counselling. Participants can interact live with the webinar or download and watch/ listen later at their convenience. The first webinar will be ABSOLUTELY FREE! After that webinar modules are priced at £15 each or £65 for all 5! Places are limited as we don’t want the experience to be too limiting! DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON! (Please note, the webinars will be run through www.anymeeting.com which requires a login. However, you can also login using your Google account if you have one)

 Walk My Dog” Mobile App – Our new app is currently in development and we are raising funds and investment to bring it to the market. We are working together with Coventry University’s Serious Games Institute and anticipating a release later this year! VERY EXCITING! I know I can’t wait! 🙂

NEW 3 DAY COURSE “Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling” – This new course will look at the ideas, ethos and practicalities of incorporating Animal Assisted Therapy into Counselling practice. Whether you are a student, psychotherapist, counsellor, health care professional, mental health worker or the like or are simply interested in the benefits of working with animals in mental health then this is the course for you! Based on our already successful one day “Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling” course that ran in 2012, this one looks at the ideas and practice in more depth and will include some hands on experience with potential furry (or feathered or scaled?!) co-therapists, role play – giving participants an idea of how it works in reality and will also look at the “behind-the-scenes” considerations that need to be made when working with animals in your counselling practice! The course will run one day a month over 3 months (one Saturday per month) and will be based in Wolverhampton. I am currently looking at dates to start in March 2013. Please email me for more information.

So here are some tidbits to whet your appetite for 2013! I will have the dates ready for you soon so be prepared to put some time aside to discover more about the magic and potential of the human-animal bond and what it can do for you and others!

A Helping Paw!

6 November, 2012

Check out an article I wrote for the brand new Holistic Magazine (P56-57). This great new magazine is the brainchild of Holistic Directory Founder and magazine editor, Sophie Jewry. The Holistic Directory is one of the fastest growing directories of holistic services in the UK.

A Helping Paw

Full Steam Ahead…!!!!

2 October, 2012

Well it’s been none stop for a good few months and it’s all going swimmingly.

On the 30th August Flossie and I attended Walsall Independent Living Centre where we were invited to speak to the public, Occupational Therapists and Social Workers about the work HumAnima CIC does and the services we offer. Needless to say, Flossie received bucket loads of fuss from adults and children alike.

The icing on the cake though was definitely the beautiful bouquet of flowers AND dog treats we received as a thank you for attending! 🙂 Flossie thoroughly enjoyed her treats and I even made sure she had them all to herself rather than having to share them with her son, Dinky!

We were officially welcomed into the arms of Social Enterprise West Midlands (SEWM) earlier in September and affirmed our new collaboration with a guest blog entry on their website. This has been well received and traffic to the website and blog has been gradually growing.

In the last few weeks though development on the app idea has exploded to FULL STEAM AHEAD! I am now working with Development KeysInnovista and Coventry University’s Serious Games Institute on our new app. I am hoping to reveal all in the coming weeks as we will be presenting a blueprint, demo and design manual to potential investors at next weeks Social Enterprise West Midlands, Social Finance Fair. Everybody I have spoken to, with regards to the potential of the app has given it the thumbs up so it’s all looking very promising.

What I can say is that HumAnima CIC’s new app will act as a social catalyst and will bring dog owners and dog lovers together. With our app, users can enjoy each others and their pooches company out and about, meet’n greet and find out about nearby resources and points of interest specifically for “dog people”. Watch this space, join our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with us and the apps development! 🙂

A few weeks ago we were invited to speak to the staff at Accord Group in Bloxwich. I spoke to members of staff who work with the older population and in particular with service users with Dementia. Again, Flossie dutifully toddled along with me and wore her workbag (I don’t see why I should do all the work!) and instantly made friends, yet again, and especially with the men in the room! (She’s such a flirt!). We’ve been invited to put together a training package that will focus specifically on Animal Assisted Therapy in Dementia so if you’d like to join us or are particularly interested in this area then do get in touch. I will be putting together a Scheme of Work over the next few weeks to propose to the organisation. It’s really great that they are so interested especially as they are already implementing what is known as The Eden Alternative. This brilliant approach incorporates plants, animals – nature as a whole, and in particular, intergenerational interaction for the benefit of the older population. Following on from this, Flossie and I (notice the order of introduction there… dog first, then me!) will be attending the Dementia Cafe in Pelsall near Walsall for a PAT visit with Flossie later on in November.

 

Last Saturday we were busy again, this time in Wolverhampton presenting at the Equinox Therapy Centre Taster day. During the day we held a stall where people could come and find out about the counselling service, Animal Assisted Therapy and (most importantly of course!) meet Flossie! We were VERY busy and by the end of the day Flossie was pretty bushed!

We had a fair few enquiries about the counselling approach I use and the role Flossie has in all of that. I find it’s helpful to explain what counselling is in my own words as everybody’s experiences of counselling are different – it is subjective.

I “ruthlessly” used Flossie as a marketing tool…. I’d bought a (Size 8…!) white t-shirt in Primark and ironed on our HumAnima CIC logo. Only as I was peeling off the logo, did I realise that I hadn’t printed it off in mirror image!!!! So it ended up being a talking point which actually worked in my favour! Fate?!

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I’m now preparing for our “Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling” course which is being held this Saturday at Keele Sustainability Hub, Keele University, Staffordshire. During this day participants will learn all about the benefits of the human-animal bond and the application of those benefits within counselling. This is a course specifically for counsellors, health professionals and students of the mental health and social work fields. We will also be exploring a basic understanding of the concept of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) and its application in a safe manner which will take into consideration health, safety and animal welfare.

We do have some places left so drop me an email and come and join us! You’ll have a great time, find out loads of fascinating info, will eat lovely grub, and you’ll get to meet and fuss Flossie 🙂

Is “Pets As Therapy” the same as “Animal Assisted Therapy”?:

I am often asked about whether Pet As Therapy (PAT) visits are the same as Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT).

Whilst there are similarities – interaction with a temperament assessed animal, work with clients of various health conditions, backgrounds and needs – they are very different.

Pets As Therapy visits are informal visits that otherwise might be known as “Animal Assisted Activities” or AAA. Pet Partners (formerly The Delta Society) describe AAA’s as:

AAA provides opportunities for motivational, educational, recreational, and/or therapeutic benefits to enhance quality of life. AAA are delivered in a variety of environments by specially trained professionals, paraprofessionals, and/or volunteers, in association with animals that meet specific criteria.

(from Standards of Practice for Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy)

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) on the other hand:

–  has specific aims, goals and objectives for the individual

–  is measurable

–  is delivered by a health/ human service professional within the scope of their practice

(From Standards of Practice for Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy)

So as you can see, it isn’t quite so straight forward. However, the benefits of both are undeniable and it is our wish to continue to support and evidence those benefits.

If you have any specific questions that you’d like me to address in future blog posts, message me, email me, Facebook or Twitter me. If all else fails,… try carrier pigeon!

G.I. Joe the Famous Carrier Pigeon

Icing on the cake this week?… Flossie won a competition online with the lovely P-etiquette after I entered their competition. Flossie won with her entry of this picture and will be getting a beautiful handmade Italian Leather PURPLE dog collar to flaunt as uniform when we go out on our HumAnima CIC travels. Very proud Mummy!

Final Video Diary with U-do

14 September, 2012

For the past few weeks, I’ve been rushed off my little feet! I don’t know whether I’m coming or going! So much has been happening! All good but I’m already contemplating retirement… Only joking!

Over the last 4 weeks I’ve been interviewed once a week by the charming, Nitya of U-do about the various aspects of social enterprise development, what has helped HumAnima CIC and what people can look forward to. Last week was my final video diary (I’d never done a video diary, let alone an interview this way so it was very new territory for me! Fascinating though!) and in this one I talk about marketing – which is a continuous learning journey, can be frustrating and so requires much patience!

And just a reminder that places are filling up for our “Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling” course! Happening at Keele Sustainability Hub, Keele University on the Saturday 6th October! Places are filling up so don’t delay! Email me for more information and a course booking form.

If you have any thoughts or questions, you know where to find me 🙂 info(at)humanima.co.uk

A Dream come True

27 August, 2012

This famous song just about sums up the magic of recent developments. Jiminy Cricket, the famous Pinochio’s conscience, sang this song whilst gazing up at the stars. Whilst, as a child I found the film quite scary (the fear of being lost, not to mention mislead or being swallowed up by a giant whale…) there were elements of it that I always remembered. Jiminy’s song being one of them.

I have always been a believer in the possibility of making dreams a reality. I came to the conclusion many years ago, that I could not rely on other people to make my dreams come true; nobody knew as well as I do what my dreams actually are. Only I could do that. Hence the years of research, persistence, determination, passion and focus. Yes my goals have moulded and morphed over the years a little but the main premise remains – to enhance people’s relationships with animals, to research that relationship and to make it as positive as possible for everyone involved including the animals!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is this that has been driving me on for months now and continues to fuel my determination to make HumAnima CIC a success. And slowly but surely things are happening. Good things.

  • HumAnima CIC is now a proud Member of Social Enterprise West Midlands (SEWM). 

We will be receiving our members certification at the beginning of September and Flossie will be attending too!

  • Flossie will be joining me at Walsall Independent Living Centre on the 30th September 2012. We will be presenting to both staff and service users at a Children & Family Day about Animal Assisted Therapy and the work that HumAnima CIC is developing.
  • Recently, I have been interviewed by Nitya of Udo and these interviews have been turned into a video diary. I will be doing 6 in total and these will not only give viewers an idea of the work I do but also what’s on the cards 🙂
  • EXCITING NEWS: Courtesy of a fab conference that was held a few months back by SEWM, I am collaborating with two lovely gentleman from Innovista Network. I recently attended a meeting with them at Coventry University’s Serious Games Institute/ Serious Games International who we will be working with on the development of an app. All I can say (as it’s all very “hush, hush!”) is that the app will be for dog owners and will help people to connect. Watch this space!
  • I really need to start working on this book… Yep. You heard right. A book. Next on the agenda is a book. I have NO idea how to write a book, but have thought of a nice idea that will hopefully be the seed for a new creation. One friend in particular (no names being named,… Anna) suggested I write a book. Again, at the time I honestly couldn’t think of anything that could possibly be turned into a book that hasn’t already been written, not to mention the fact that I’ve never really wanted to write a book! Very early days and I’m not entirely sure where to begin. I have the idea but I need to start putting er… finger to keyboard.
  • Our next course, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, is due on the 6th October 2012 at the beautiful Keele University Sustainability Hub. The course has been extended a little as there is so much information to get through and I also wanted to add a few more activities. This time, hopefully, I shan’t lose my voice!

  • Since the last course I attended a fantastic 4 day course which looked at “Animal Assisted Play Therapy”. The course was run by the lovely play therapists, Rise Van Fleet of Playful Pooch and Tracie Faa-Thompson of Turn About Pegasus. The week was packed with information where we learnt about a unique play therapy approach that incorporates Animal Assisted Therapy. During my time there we worked with dogs, horses and of course, each other! A total blast was had by all and I am very pleased with my photographic record of the occasion!

The approach, otherwise known as AAPT, can be used with adults although it is mainly used with children. As I am not a qualified Play Therapist, it was from the perspective of using the approach with adults that interested me especially as I have a strong belief that our adult lifestyles sorely lack the injection and elements of fun and play that usually infuse childhood. I will be adding a couple of slides to the course to refer to this approach just to make people aware of yet another of Animal Assisted Therapy’s potential applications!

  • With all these developments, I am now looking to work in partnership with other businessess who might be interested in scratching our back and in turn we will scratch theirs. In particular, we will be looking at handmade dog collars, dog t-shirts, dog hoodies, dog groomers and the like. Whilst this will enhance the animal side of the business it will hopefully give us the reach to people who might be interested in the well-being aspect of the business. After all, there are 27mln pets in the UK with 43% of households containing at least one companion animal (PFMA, http://www.dognews.co.uk/uk-pet-owner-statistics/).

Just before I head off to do some more work, the icing on the cake. Last week, I was fortunate enough to have a couple of days off away with a very special person in Wales. We had a great time, staying at Hammet House in Llechryd, Pembrokeshire. Well, it’s been a VERY long time coming but after oodles of years and what has felt like aeons of waiting, I FINALLY saw my first ever dolphin. Granted, it was from the shore (even though we paid to go out on a dolphin spotting trip) and they were a way off but I wasn’t the only one that saw them. Other people brought them to our attention so I know it wasn’t my mind playing tricks on me! It still feels very surreal, and a bit like a dream but it happened. I feel blessed to have seen them even from afar.

It just goes to show,…

Plan, Propose, Prepare, Prevent!

20 July, 2012

On of the biggest issues affecting the take-up of Animal Assisted Therapy here in the UK is the red tape and emphasis on health and safety. It is easy to understand why we need to keep H&S in mind, but at what point is cautious, too cautious?

Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods” (2010) coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” and since that time we have come across increasing news articles noting the rise in allergies, aggression and behavioural problems in children. The link has now been made between these problems and a lack of access to greenspace, nature and an increase in urban, technologically oriented society.

Some of you may have come across the recent news (except that this is old news!) confirming that children who have/ interact with animals have fewer allergies. This makes sense on so many levels – children from a young age, interacting with animals, get a chance to build up their immune system making them more resistant to conditions like allergies and making their health stronger on the whole. This is why I struggle to understand the obsessive cleanliness of some parents who by keeping their children “too” clean contribute towards the development of allergies.

It is understandable that in institutions and establishments such as hospital wards, residential homes and schools that particular care must be taken due to the increased vulnerability of this population and their weaker/ weakened immune systems. However, you can be over-cautious and in being so completely miss out on the fact that the benefits outweigh the risks!

Older people in residential homes and hospitals suffer greatly from loneliness and it is such a problem that
there is a Campaign to End Loneliness. PAT dogs and visitation schemes help prevent and reduce loneliness within such institutions and for those who have little or no family, or family who are far away this can mean the difference between contented and fulfilling older ageing and depression and distress.


Aside from being a
great opportunity for older to people to engage with one another (I have seen this first hand on a PAT visit and it is beyond amazing!) it is a chance to increase intergenerational interaction – so interaction between people of different ages and generations.

As we know, dogs (and other animals) act as social catalysts (McNicholas & Collis, 2010) and so adding them into the equation where isolation and loneliness are problems can only help alleviate such challenges.

In order for such ‘antidotes’ to be applied though, the readiness and ease of setting in motion such interventions needs to be significantly greater and smoother! My impression is that in America, they are willing to take risks more readily based on ‘gut instincts’. They trust their instincts and are willing to try something out because so much points to its success. However, on our side of the Pond, we are sorely lagging behind despite the valiant efforts of organisations such as PAT and the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) to demonstrate the benefits and gains that could be made from accepting, what is now, an evidence based approach. Yes more research is needed, but it’s very difficult to do the research when you can’t even implement a project to collate the research and statistics!

When I ran the first “Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling” course back in June, one of the areas I covered was outcome measurement. But in order to measure any outcomes we need to have a project to get outcomes for! How do we do that?

To start with, you do need to ensure you have the background, knowledge, support, SAFETY NET and of course insurance in place. Knowledge and information cost nothing and it costs nothing to ask questions. If you are thinking of starting a project, and you want it to succeed, the key and the magic will be in the making – the planning, proposing, preparation and prevention.

PLAN – your project. What idea is it you have? Does it have legs (excuse the pun…!) If you’re not sure, ask around. Technology now allows us to explore ideas by creating things like questionnaires and polls to test the waters and see if people indeed would be interested in such a project. A key question is WHY are they interested in it? This will tell you how feasible the project is and why you should be doing it in the first place. No point in doing it if nobody has any need for it. However, need/ want nowadays are interchangeable in the material world. Explore it.

PROPOSE – Who will you be proposing the project to? Who you propose it to, should have been consulted when you were planning  the project. At the end of the day, they may end up being your customers! Also, think outside of the box – if you offered it to a residential home and they are interested they which other services linked to residential services might be interested in your project? Don’t forget, you are only PROPOSING an idea at this stage so you need to be flexible – the idea for the project may adapt and/ or change shape.

PREPARE – You can never be too prepared. Cover all your bases. Is everything in place? If, for example, your project involves feeding participants, it’s better to have too much than too little. Have contingency plans in place because s*!t happens! Best to err on the side of caution and prepare for a worst case scenario than a best case scenario. All the while you are working through the “4 P’s” you still need to be gathering information and knowledge as you will find that time will slip through your fingers like melting butter!

PREVENT – This is the key point that links into the start of this blog. You don’t want something to go wrong at all so the best way is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Don’t assume that participants are not scared of dogs, if it’s an AAT programme with dogs, and they’ve shown interest – on the first course, whilst I did ask people to tell me if they had a phobia and nobody did, there was one lady who was a little uncomfortable. Thankfully nothing happened, but I did have Flossie’s crate ready JUST-IN-CASE and it would have been easy to separate her from the group had the need arisen.

Hand washing facilities were in place and participants were briefed on acceptable and safe interaction – what Flossie likes and what she doesn’t like. To be honest, she’s pretty bomb-proof and the only thing she doesn’t like is bouncy, rude, ill-mannered puppies… She’s not a lady then but a dragon :/

If you have these 4 elements in place before approaching and whilst approaching anyone with a project or idea, the process of your project being accepted should be a LOT smoother and hopefully quicker. Don’t forget, if its an AAT project and it is accepted, what you do will represent the field so we want it to go well! Please don’t take chances and consult where possible if you’re unsure!

Better to be safe than sorry!

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