A Chat with Archer: Being a Therapy Dog at Creative Family Counseling
Creative Family Counseling is known for offering creative interventions to help clients and their families experience change and healing. Animal-Assisted Therapy is one of the unique modalities of therapy available for clients of our practice. Rebecca Street, LMFT and a sweet Doberman Pinscher named Archer are one of the two animal-assisted therapy teams at Creative Family Counseling. I sat down with them for a quick interview about the amazing work they offer to their clients.
Lacey: Hello Rebecca and Archer! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to tell us more about your work! So, could you start with describing how you use Archer as a therapy dog in therapy with your clients?
Rebecca: Sure! A therapy dog’s job is to be present in session and respond to people when they’re distressed. This can be in the form of sitting on someone having a panic attack, diffusing a tense situation by moving where she’s sitting, or simply being present for someone to be with while they discuss something upsetting. A therapy dog’s most important job is to respond calmly, no matter how upset someone is.
Lacey: Could you tell us a little about therapy dog certification and how you two became a therapy team?
Rebecca: Therapy dogs require a certification process, though it’s different based on the organization. Depending on the dog’s age and abilities, some obedience classes may be required. Temperament testing is always a core part of the certification process, as dogs can never have exhibited any form of aggression to become a therapy dog. We [Rebecca and Archer] became a Therapy Team by going through the Pawsibilities Unleashed program to become certified.
Archer: Rebecca has been one of my best friends for a very long time and she and my dad decided that I’d be really good at becoming a Therapy Dog. So Rebecca found this nice lady named Liz, who provides the training process and the evaluation for therapy dogs. We had to go on a car trip and meet Liz and a bunch of other dogs. I was really nervous! But Liz loved me and said that I was the perfect kind of dog to be a therapy dog. I was really excited because that means I got to get a job!
Lacey: Archer, how do you manage your home/work balance?
Archer: I manage my stress by only working two days a week. The rest of the week I stay at home with my dad and my doggy mom and doggy siblings just chilling out. My dad takes me on walks outside in the sunshine, even during the winter. Sometimes we go on hiking adventures in the woods or to my grandparent’s farm!
Lacey: What’s the best and worst thing about being a therapy dog?
Archer: The best thing about being a therapy dog is all the naps and snuggles I get when I come to work. It’s always sad when people get upset, but I love that I get to help them calm down. The worst part is when people I enjoy snuggling with have to leave because their appointment is over!
Lacey: What do you like to do outside of work, Archer?
Archer: I love going hiking with my family, long walks, going to patios and festivals with my dad and chasing my chickens. And treats. Lots and lots of treats.
The Therapist-Dog Teams who offer Animal-Assisted Therapy at Creative Family Counseling are Rebecca & Archer, Lacey & Lola, and Leslie & Nugget. Nugget is in training to become a therapy dog, as he is still learning the ropes and working toward his certification with Leslie.
The magic work these pups provide for the clients at Creative Family Counseling is an incredible thing to witness and experience. If you’re interested in learning more about how counseling with animal-assisted therapy might help you or your family, give us a call!