Essex looks at using animals in therapy

Essex Council social services department and
North East Essex Mental Health NHS Trust have set up a working
group to look at pet-facilitated therapy and how social workers can
involve animals in supporting clients.

The working group – due to report in February
– is expected to put forward ideas such as regular “pets as
therapy” dog visits to isolated, elderly clients, with funding
through the direct payments scheme, and using dogs in secure
settings and on long-stay wards.

Tracey Brannan, community mental health social
worker and the project’s instigator, said: “The director of social
services wanted good ideas from front-line staff so I suggested
looking at pet-facilitated therapy.”

Brannan already works with her dog Gem on a
day-to-day basis in Essex. “I find that she is very helpful in
engaging clients who have a history of not engaging with
professionals. But you do have to be aware that not everyone is
comfortable with a dog.”

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