DePaul’s counseling services program is designed to help children and families find healing and move forward in their lives. Daisy, a certified therapy dog, is a newer addition to the program but has already made a massive impact.
“When you have kids who struggle, the world is repelled from them in many ways,” said Heather. “A dog can help bridge that gap.”
Heather’s son, Drew, began counseling sessions with DePaul Outpatient Therapist Kim Gregory and her dog, Daisy, after experiencing medical trauma. Drew was in and out of the hospital often and struggling to cope. Daisy provided the connection and comfort he needed.
“Daisy is so sweet and fun to be around, and she is very calming,” said Drew.
Drew and Daisy are inseparable during his counseling sessions. As Kim works with Drew to manage his anxiety and communicate his feelings, Daisy is there. And when Drew recently had an unexpected surgery in the hospital, Daisy was there, too. Heather, who also attends therapy sessions with Kim, believes the combination of counseling and comfort from Daisy has made a difference in Drew’s life.
“Daisy helped save my son’s life when he was going through a really dark time,” said Heather.
Daisy is also part of Kim’s other therapy sessions. Sometimes, she sits on the couch with them, sometimes she sits by their feet, and sometimes she is just there in the room as a calming presence.
“The most important part of animal-assisted therapy, in my opinion, is that dogs have unconditional positive regard for others,” said Kim. “With the people we work with, a lot of the time they haven’t felt accepted or cared for. Daisy loves them regardless of their struggles.”
Whether it’s with Kim and Daisy or DePaul’s other experienced therapists, the work done during counseling sessions can be difficult, complicated, challenging, and exhausting. But, as is true in Drew’s case, that work can be life-changing.