The Power of Animal Assisted Therapy

I already knew about the power of animal assisted therapy as a friend of mine, Frances Weston, uses her Labrador Tilly very successfully in her counselling sessions.

However, I hadn’t really thought about using an animal in speech and language therapy at all. I was working on a channel 4 programme called ‘Born Naughty’, when I was asked to assess a 9 year old called Honey, who was very anxious. She almost totally trashed the library and was basically a whirling dervish of anger, fear and extreme anxiety all wrapped up as awful behaviour! The producer said that we wouldn’t be able to include her as he could get hardly any useable footage from the first session. I, however, had been given a job to do so wanted to complete it. I wanted to know why she was behaving this way, what were her receptive language skills, had she got social communication difficulties and, above all, had been asked to complete my part of an ASD assessment.

I asked him if we could see her again at Sunshine Barn near Ashbourne where Frances has sheep Bertie and Beatrice, chickens, ducks and the gorgeous Tilly, the chocolate Labrador. Tilly greeted Honey, who at once became relaxed, happy and very compliant. We couldn’t believe it was the same child! I realised then that I needed a therapy dog BUT as part of my HCPC registration must only do activities based upon evidence based practice.

I got myself a beautiful chocolate Labrador called Ralph, who the breeder suggested was very bright as he was naughty and into everything; but didn’t really know where to start to use him in therapy when he was old enough.

Fortunately, Frances recommended a course for counsellors […]

By |December 7th, 2015|Animal Assisted Therapy|0 Comments

Compassion costs nothing

Life can sometimes bring us some unexpected and nasty surprises. You can’t forsee them. You don’t know when they’ll happen and you don’t know how to prevent them because they haven’t happened yet! These are the “life lessons” or events that often make us stop and think, look back and use hindsight. They can be opportunities to reflect and invariably we do end up looking back and asking ourselves a whole barrage of questions – did I have this coming? How could I have prevented this? What could I have done differently? Why didn’t I… ? Why didn’t they…? We can end up going around in circles with questions that we will simply never be able to answer.

Why do we persist in tormenting ourselves? For some, it’s a matter of low self-esteem, guilt, low confidence or all of the above. Others may lack a support network of family or friends to help them through such hard and challenging times. Some people may be struggling with mental illness, substance misuse such as drug or alcohol addiction or past trauma. However, we all have a lot in common with one another when going through such difficult times – we all feel. We all have emotions. We all struggle at some point or another.

But how are you treating yourself through such hard times? How do you help or support others when you know they are struggling with personal or professional difficulties? Are you listening? Not just listening but hearing them also. Do your words offer comfort and compassion or judgement and blame? Imagine it’s you in that situation. How would you feel if you had a limited number of people to turn to? Would you want to be […]

By |April 12th, 2015|Counselling, Psychotherapy|0 Comments

“What a difference a dog makes” by Chris Kent, Reviewed by Marie Yates

What A Difference A Dog Makes; The ‘Tail’ of the K9 Project by Chris Kent (Review by Marie Yates of Canine Perspective CIC)


If you love dogs and you know that they have the power to change lives, you need this book in your life. Chris Kent takes the power of the human-animal bond to a whole new level. The beauty of this book is the raw honesty combined with true passion for the development of both the human and the animal. Chris, the founder of The K9 Project, shares stories of the humans and the animals that have made The K9 Project the incredible success it is. It hasn’t all been a bed of roses, and for anyone who works in the field, it is refreshing to know that sometimes, even if it doesn’t work out the way you’d hoped, there are always other success stories to focus on and other people and animals that will benefit. It’s a beautifully written, honest and powerful reflection that draws you in from the first page. It’s accessible, enjoyable to read and will be of interest to dog lovers, professionals who work with animals and people who are looking for a new way to engage with young (and not-so-young) people. Don’t underestimate the deliberate simplicity though; Chris is at the top of her game, she doesn’t just have years of multi-faceted experience, she has made it her mission to keep learning. Chris lives her passion and is a true inspiration to anyone who understands the real potential of the human-animal bond.


All proceeds from the book go to The K9 Project… please visit the website for details on how to order.





By |January 13th, 2015|Human Animal Bond, Recommended reading|0 Comments

Are you a “Cat Person” or a “Dog Person”?

It’s a question I’ve been asked on and off throughout my life. It’s a social question. You know – like, “How’s the weather in your part of the  world?” or “Have you seen the latest Marvel movie?”. How you relate to animals is something most people are curious about, whether that’s because they are cat or dog lovers or whether it is in fact a sly plot to get to meet your own furry friends (Yes, that means it’s a tactic I’ve used in the past… successfully). Our languages and cultures are suffused with animals from the stories we tell to our little ones – metaphors and life lessons in sheeps’, wolves and any other furry, feathered or finned clothing – down to the role that they play in our everyday lives. Knowing which animals people like, helps us get to know other people’s personalities.

You have the sayings – metaphors, idioms or similes – such as “fighting like cats and dogs”, “raining cats and dogs”, “working like a dog”, “strong as an ox” and “flogging a dead horse” for example. Some references are positive and some, not so positive but throughout our language you can find references to animals in one way or another. Animals feature heavily in myths and legends and you only have to take one look at any Disney film and you’re sure to find animals galore!

But what about our own personal preferences? I’ve been asked many a time whether I consider myself a “cat person” or a “dog person” and every single time, without fail, I’ve found myself stumped by that question. In all honesty, I’d be more likely to consider myself a “dolphin person” but then I’m not about […]

By |July 25th, 2014|Animal Assisted Therapy, Human Animal Bond|0 Comments

Birdwatching with Biff – What’s the fascination?

Hi, my name is Alexander and I am a very keen birdwatcher.

I started at the age of 5 and now after several years I have become an encyclopaedia of knowledge, ranging from characteristics of birds to their general colourations. For the past two years I have managed to rack up my bird count to around 210 birds, which for a teenager isn’t to shabby!

Since the start of my birding career they have had a huge impact in my life and have made each walk along the beautiful Cornish coast a whole lot better. My Grandma and Granddad used to take me down a valley called Kenidjack and pointed out simple birds such as the blackbird and robin however, now the matriarch of the group has changed.  I have gone that step further and have learnt the key identification notes and also where to find them!

But why bird watching, what is it about looking at our feathery friends that is so exciting? The simple answer is the unpredictability of it! In other words with a computer game the script can never change but with birds you never know what comes around the corner whether it’s a Robin or a bee-eater, you can never predict it.

Recently it has had a profound effect on every member of the household, with my Mother getting up at 5 in the morning most Saturdays to go ringing and on holiday my sister gets woken up by my alarm! With birding you have to show real commitment to your practice. For example if you want to find the most beautiful bird in the world you don’t wait for the bird to come to you, you go to them. Effort is the true […]

By |June 2nd, 2014|Animal Assisted Therapy, Human Animal Bond|0 Comments

Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling Summer Residential course 2014


It is with great pleasure, we can announce the summer dates for our next Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling course! We’ve already had several enquiries and a few places have already gone! This is going to be a fabulous experience especially as we will be hosting the course at the beautiful Nature & Nurture CIC HQ in the stunning Derbyshire countryside!

Please be aware that places are limited to a maximum of 14. Suggestions and recommendations for accommodation will also be available. (Course fee does not include accommodation)

If you would like to find our more, you can download the course brochure here and the booking form here and email me at [email protected]

You can also download the course flyer by clicking on the image below.


When is a Rabbit, not a Rabbit?

We’ve all grown up around the endless children’s stories, myths, legends and fables with animals as their heroes, villains, guides and companions. No matter the cultural background, animals abound. Children have an innate affinity for animals; perhaps down to Biophilia, an innate tendency or love of nature, as defined by E. O. Wilson (1984), suggesting this love, this connection is part of biology, genetic make-up and is in fact in-built. Perhaps that is why it is so easy for children, young people, adults and older people to relate to most things concerning animals – whether that be a conversation or an interaction.

What were your favourite stories with animals whilst you were growing up? I have always loved all the different animal stories as I was growing up. Stories where the animals could speak to us and we could be understood back were always a favourite and classic tales such as Brer Rabbit from Disney’s “Song of the South” have stayed with me throughout my years.

A popular “tool” though has always been the fable – Aesop’s Fables being perhaps the most well-known. Who hasn’t heard of “The Hare and the Tortoise” or “The Fox & the Crow”? Most people are familiar with them and of course there are morals and lessons to be learnt behind these wonderful stories. (If you aren’t familiar with these wonderful tales, I can highly recommend them!) Depending on how you read them you may take away one lesson or more; in “The Hare and the Tortoise” you might end up considering “more haste, less speed” or, as it was for me “slow but steady, wins the race”. There are a number of different interpretations and different people will perceive and interpret different […]

Guilt or Fear? – A Lesson in Empathy

Yesterday on Facebook, I saw yet another video compilation of so-called “Guilty” dogs being “shamed” by their owners – The Many Faces of Guilty Dogs. These dogs had supposedly done something naughty, be it chewed a favourite shoe, chewed a table leg, “killed” a sofa cushion or “stolen” some treats. In all instances, the person taking the video was questioning the suspect in what can only be described as a patronising and suspicious tone and the result was predominantly laughter on the part of the person, sniggering and further provocation.

The dogs in the videos were invariably giving their owner a “look” that were we looking at a person, would be described as guilt, shame, embarrassment or … fear. Yes, fear.

I will put my hands up and admit that I too was guilty of chuckling at some of these videos but I am also aware of the true nature of this “look”. And this is where anthopomorphism can become dangerous. It is the very reason, as dog owners and other animal owners, we should do our utmost to understand what we can of our animals.

Before getting Flossie, who is my first ever dog, I started by going to dog training classes over three years before I finally made the leap. I had initially been going as I was trying to decide which path I wanted my future and my career to take – should it be with people, caring for them, offering help and support or should it be with animals, that I have loved my whole life? I didn’t know much about dogs or animals that was practical or useful so I decided to find out for myself hence volunteering at dog training classes. Those […]

By |February 18th, 2014|Human Animal Bond|0 Comments

Unique Wolverhampton Organisation Working With Animals To Help Vulnerable People


11th September 2013                                        For Immediate Release
Unique Wolverhampton Organisation Working With Animals To Help Vulnerable People
A Wolverhampton organisation that works with animals to help vulnerable people in a remarkable way, is training other counsellors and health and wellbeing practitioners to do the same. HumAnima CIC, run by Kathryn Kimbley, 30, of Wolverhampton, is a social enterprise that offers counselling with a unique approach called Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). AAT aims to improve the social or emotional functioning of clients and uses animals to help to educate and motivate them. The organisation is now also offering a one-of-a-kind course called Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling, which has been endorsed by the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP). HumAnima CIC’s founder Kathryn was compelled to start up the organisation after experiencing the benefits of therapeutic interaction with animals first-hand. As a teenager, Kathryn developed severe clinical depression, which was compounded by acute back and joint pain, later diagnosed as Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition. She has since battled this debilitating condition on a daily basis, alongside Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). She says: ‘Around the time I was diagnosed with depression, I was living with a friend who had a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called

Treacle, who saw me through some of the hardest days, weeks and months. ‘Whenever I felt particularly low, I would usually be in bed and it was during this time that Treacle would come to me, put her head on my tummy and let me stroke her for hours. She helped me get through those very dark days.’ Having always had a love of animals and […]

By |September 20th, 2013|Animal Assisted Therapy|0 Comments

HumAnima CIC interviewed by 101.8 WCR FM !

It’s been a very exciting day for us here at HumAnima CIC as we recently sent out a press release prepared by the lovely Dina Behrman of Dina Behrman Communications and a local radio station, 101.8 WCR FM responded asking if they could interview us! I say “us”, although Flossie was of course unable to answer questions! That didn’t stop her from enthusiastically greeting our interviewer, Ian Burt and winning him over in a matter of minutes! It was a fabulous opportunity and it gave us the chance to tell listeners about HumAnima CIC’s work and about our forthcoming course, Animal Assisted Therapy in Counselling. I have asked for access to the recording of the interview, so as soon as I have that, I’ll upload it here and you can have a listen! See if I have a “face for radio”! Ha!

By |September 17th, 2013|Wolverhampton|0 Comments