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Practical Therapy Dog Training with SCAS Part 2

Well it’s been a couple of weeks but I’ve finally been able to sit down and tell you all about Part Deux of our (mine and Flossie’s) big adventure at our Practical Therapy Dog Training being run by the Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) at The Dog’s Trust HQ near Uxbridge. For those of you who are new to our blog, please see our previous post, “Exciting Times developing with HumAnima’s Therapy Dog, Flossie”. This time round we did things…. the hard way…. It was a Bank Holiday weekend and so public transport options left a lot to be desired. So we stayed with a friend in Hertfordshire and prior to our training day, thoroughly wore Flossie out with a very healthy walk/ run/ ball throwing session in the park, fields and one of her favourite places, the woodland. Suffice to say, she was a pooped pooch. We had a very early start to get from Hertfordshire to The Dog’s Trust but we made it thanks to the kindness of my friend giving us a lift. Now Flossie is very familiar with our friend’s car and loves (and anticipates) the forthcoming adventures with relish (please forgive my anthropomorphism!). However, she is not so keen on saying “Goodbye” and parting ways with our friend as she has a very strong attachment to said friend. Flossie was, hmm… decidedly surprised to find our friend gone, and us landed in a hall with a healthy number of other four-leggeds and two-leggeds. After some initial sulking, during which we were introduced to day 2, Flossie was happy enough to get on with it and “strutt her stuff”. We started with (what I had quite dreaded) our homework. On […]

By |September 8th, 2011|Animal Assisted Therapy|2 Comments

Natural Horsemanship & Us

Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to go on a days course entitled “Introduction to Natural Horsemanship” at Kingdom Horse CIC near Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. The course had been arranged by Kingdom Horse CIC and the wonderful Growing Rural Enterprise, who support those in or who want to start in rural enterprise.

The course was led by Ingela Larsson-Smith, an incredible professional horsewoman with an innate ability for Natural Horsemanship. Ingela’s no-nonsense approach quickly became clear but with an injection of humour she came across as a dynamic and motivating teacher (“Leader”). I have put “Leader” there as this is what much of our learning involved in the morning… Learning about horse dynamics.

Now I suppose I should start by saying outright that I am NOT a horsey person. As much as I would love to be, this was a past-time that evaded my youth, primarily because of its expense and also due to a lack of access to any horses! I have a very healthy respect for horses and I would add a mild intimidation of them, due to their size, power and perhaps, I am now realising, their ability to look straight into your soul, know what’s their without a second glance and read you like an open book. I have been horse riding on several occasions throughout my life, mostly in Poland when I was on holiday and when I lived there. I learnt to trot and canter (once) but the lessons were stretched so far apart that there was no continuity. As a result I didn’t get a chance to really build a relationship with any of the horses I worked with, which I can quite clearly see created a massive barrier to any […]

Remembering the Spirit of Community in light of the Riots

I think we’re all a bit shaken up after the recent events happening across the country. Whilst unrest was on the cards I know I certainly didn’t expect it to the extent that it did occur. So many people were injured, businesses destroyed, goods stolen and damaged and people’s livelihoods obliterated.

Watching the videos of it all unravelling, listening to the young people embroiled in such displays and acts of violence and blatant disregard for… well… anything, I was angry; no — furious. But at what or at whom? “Who is to blame?” was one of the first questions cropping up in people’s minds, alongside “How could they?!” and “Why?”. In essence people were grieving very shortly after the destruction not only for the material goods damaged, lost, stolen or burned but for the displays of violence, anger, pain, disrespect, greed and so many other qualities we don’t like to think of. Humanity; humility; modesty; shame; pity even? Where were any of these qualities in the people on the streets erupting in what can only be described as wild behaviour. That said, I can’t help but think that some wild animals would only display such emotions and behaviour with good reason. And so the question on everybodies lips is just that, “Why did this happen?”

I, my family, friends and colleagues have all had the conversation that is the topic of the week or soon to be month and just discussing it raises temperatures and emotions. Theories are ranging from “wild disregard and a lack of respect” to the unsurprising “state of the economy”. I would like to add to that my own “state of society” theory. What is “under the surface” or under everyone’s skin? What […]

By |August 20th, 2011|Animal Assisted Therapy|0 Comments

HumAnima is interviewed by West Midlands BIP!

Hello again everybody!

Recently HumAnima CIC was fortunate enough to be interviewed by the lovely Judith Radcliffe of West Midlands Business Information Partnership (BIP). You can find out more about HumAnima CIC’s origins and the Director’s inspiration, reasoning and influence behind starting this social enterprise! It is in 2 parts so please find the links below:

West Midlands BIP Interview – Part 1

West Midlands BIP Interview – Part 2

Animal Human Interaction: Research & Practice Newsletter of Division 17, APA

AHI Newsletter Autumn 2011

Please find attached (click the above link) the latest Animal-Human Interaction Newsletter. Filled with lots of information regarding the human-animal bond and the latest research from contributors all over the world. HumAnima CIC’s Director & Counsellor, Kathryn has herself contributed to this edition of the newsletter! Enjoy!!

Exciting Times developing with HumAnima’s Therapy Dog, Flossie

It’s been a year and 7 months since HumAnima CIC was officially formed. It’s been a journey and a half and it can and I imagine it will be comparable to an oceangoing voyage across calm and stormy seas. I am, Chris Columbus, discovering new lands and peoples, expanding my perceptions and knowledge and seeing what I can bring to others. An adventurer I guess. The ship needs to be well maintained, cared for, ship-shape and tip top and so far since her launch we are getting a feel for the waters and charting our route.

Last weekend, I had a fantastic time with Flossie on the Society For Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) newly set up Practical Therapy Dog Training. The training took place at the Dog’s Trust in Uxbridge and admittedly getting there was the first challenge of the weekend. We arrived at Denham late Saturday afternoon and our first trial involved finding our way to the B&B. Because of where the training was we had to stay overnight. We stayed at a wonderful B&B called Tilehouse Lodge. Flossie and I had a lovely 2 mile walk to the B&B along country roads and next to a small air field and next to a small caravan club. It was a beautiful day and we were very lucky to have beautiful weather and quiet conditions during our stroll. Flossie was packed with her little pannier and I with my trusty rucksack, we were like Dick Whittington and his cat (I don’t think Floss would approve of that comparison…).

We arrived at the Lodge gone 6pm and were welcomed by our hostess who welcomed us warmly and took us to a quaint little room with a single bed […]

By |July 31st, 2011|Animal Assisted Therapy|1 Comment

“Public Mental Health & Communities”

Last Thursday, I prepared myself to attend what looked to be an interesting event. I had no idea what to expect but being a free event and relevant to my field and work I couldn’t help myself and jumped at the opportunity to mingle and learn more.

The stage was set by Councillor Sue Anderson of Birmingham who introduced us to the speakers, programme but more importantly gave us a preview of the stats and current public mental health scene. Some information to contemplate included:

1:6 people will experience mental illness symptoms at some point in their lives (1:4 is a more frequently used and widely accepted)
Mental health costs the economy £105bln per year
There are distinct connections between mental health, housing, employment and criminal justice (whilst this may seem obvious, this relationship is rarely referred to or reflected upon within treatment or accessing services in each of these areas. Multi-agency interaction is poor and lacks linking up and communication. )
Current models of care are unsustainable in the current economic climate
An estimated 90% of people with a mental health condition are unemployed

These are all pieces of information that had the desired effect of making people sit up and listen. But what really struck home is the current need to “Do more with less money. Doing things differently in a cost effective way for better outcomes. How can we meet what the individual needs in our cost envelope?”

And YET AGAIN… the conclusion that we heard echoed (over time as well as geographical space) was PREVENTION.

Dr Neil Deuchar (Medical Director of West Midlands Health Authority) started us off with a very informative presentation that gave a fantastic background to existing white papers concerning mental health and what the current […]

By |July 18th, 2011|Counselling|0 Comments

“Pin Down” by Teresa Cooper

I recently finished reading “Pin Down” by Teresa Cooper. It is the account of a young woman, who through her involvement with “care services” ends up institutionalised. It is a historic account and refers to the mental health service as it was in the UK back in the late 70’s, early 80’s.  “Shocking” would be an understatement, but the book is sobering and certainly puts things (aka. my life) into perspective.

What really surprised me, (and I’m very good at getting “sucked into” the world that a book portrays) was how easy it was, from the authors writing, to experience her swaying doubt and questioning of her own mental health and perception of the world and what was actually going on. Was she really mentally ill or was she put into an institution because that was the most “convenient” place to put her for whatever reason? But why drug someone if they’re just there for convenience? Did she really need the drugs or was it to subdue the patients to co-operate ?

Throughout the book all sorts of questions are raised, like some of those I have mentioned above. What was a pleasant surprise was Ms Cooper’s reference to the way the cat that lived in the home she was staying in, helped her. How interacting with “Buttercup” helped her –

“I felt that Buttercup was me in cat form. I identified with her because she was as lonely and scared as I was. It took months to win her over. I saw and talked to her endlessly until she got up the courage to poke her head through the hole in the wall. I was thrilled when eventually she ventured into the room. The biggest breakthrough came […]

By |July 11th, 2011|Animal Assisted Therapy|1 Comment

Listening with a Passionate Ear

In the last week or so I have caught myself thinking about how this business will not only develop but how it will continue. Naturally my hope is for it to establish well, develop and grow and go on and on and on… At this point HumAnima CIC consists of myself and good ol’ Flossie but where will it be 5 years from now?

It has taken the best part of 2 years to get to where we are now and that has been pretty intense to say the least. It isn’t something you can do full-time unless you have massive resources and perhaps oodles of existing experience in business. So at this point it’s very much a case of trial and error, listening and learning from the many people who surround me who have got those oodles of experience, be it in marketing, finance and accounting, counselling or just being good at what they’re good at!

I never ever tire of hearing people talk about what they’re passionate about. Too many times I’ve witnessed a steady grey colour take over the flush pink face of a listener when talking about my own passions and interests so I can only emphasize how important I realise it is to be able to express that passion and to have it listened to with intrigue, interest and attentiveness. It is a priceless feeling to know that you are “infecting” someone with your own passion, motivation and keenness for a subject.

I have met a few people in my life who have equal enthusiasm for their areas as I do for mine. The person who has undoubtedly had the biggest influence on me has been my dear friend, Dr Horace Dobbs, Founder […]

By |July 6th, 2011|Animal Assisted Therapy|0 Comments

The Search for Harmony

“Communion, at union with harmonious states of nature can be very important for modern people. It allows one to achieve inner harmony.”, Vladimir Antonov


The above, is a quote from a video I watched today that a member of an Ecopsychology group on Facebook posted. The quote jumped out at me immediately and I turned my thoughts to a recent Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course that I have been doing in Birmingham. The course has been organised by Between You & Me Seva, another West Midlands based counselling service who focus on providing mental health support for multi-ethnic communities, taking into consideration cultural, ethnic and religious needs.

Initially, I embarked upon the course due to a personal interest in MBCT and also because I recognise it as an increasingly popular approach in counselling and psychotherapy. I hoped to employ aspects of the approach to my own work as a professional counsellor. What started out as curious dabbling in a new approach has become quite the journey!

The course has involved regular, thorough, disciplined meditation of varying time durations. The body scan is the longest, lasting approximately 40min. Then there are the 20 minute meditations, the 5 minute breath meditations and the Breath of Fire. Most have been brought to us in the form of guided meditations making them much easier to follow and allowing us the freedom to not have to worry about whether we’re doing it right or not. The body scan, for myself, is very easy to follow and along with other members of the group, I have found it to provide instant relief and relaxation, many of us falling asleep during the course of the meditation! Whilst the purpose of the meditation is not […]

By |June 27th, 2011|Animal Assisted Therapy|0 Comments