Animal Assisted Therapy

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New Year, New Resolutions, New You…?

It’s been some time since my last post as it’s all been happening. Several things have happened with HumAnima CIC, starting with the addition of two Directors to the Board.

Dr John Hegarty, has 40+ years of experience as an applied psychologist working in a university department, where he has carried out action research in collaboration with organisations for people with special support needs. He has a private practice in hypnotherapy and nature-guided counselling. He was a member of the EU scientifiic panel COAST 866 on “green care in agriculture” and has researched and published on people’s connectedness with nature and its health benefits. He is on the board of directors of two farm-based social enterprises and has established “Green Age” as a not for profit social enterprise offering day support on his farm for older people.



Mrs Susan Turner, has also joined the Board of Directors. Mrs Turner has a background in counselling and has worked extensively as a Counsellor and also in the learning disability field as a Senior Day Centre Officer. She has had a career-long interest in Gerard Egan’s Model, which is expanded upon in his book “The Skilled Helper”.


With our new Directors on board, HumAnima CIC will be able to deliver a more professional service. We will be working together to ensure that our work is of the highest standard and that we continue to deliver high quality, engaging, motivating and supportive services; be that through counselling or workshops.

Also, in light of the recent Permaculture course I went on, I am continuing to explore the nature in therapy theme. On the 14th January 2012, I will be attending a course at Keele University in their new Sustainability Hub buildings where Dr Hegarty will […]

Permaculture ponderings on people, plants and planet

On the 8th October 2011, Dinky (Flossie’s son) and I, embarked upon an adventure we would have never been able to foresee. Yes, I knew I was going on a Permaculture Design Course at Treflach Farm, yes I knew we were going to be staying in a yurt (…more about that later) and yes I knew we’d be in the middle of nowhere. What I didn’t know was how wonderful the people would be, the amazing things I’d experience and learn (I kid you not) and last but by no means least, I had no idea of the impact the course would have on me (and indeed on Dinky!).

I imagine all of this might sound a bit hippyish, or at least fluffy but I will start by saying you have to do it in order to have an inckling of the “Wow!” factor this experience can have. In truth, I am still processing the experience now and I imagine I’ll be “chewing the cud” on this one yet for quite some time…

Get on with it! … Ok! Ok! But just before I start I will have to make it quite clear, that for me to write up the solid goings on of 2 weeks of permaculture play and pondering… well it ain’t gonna happen! 😉

I think we can start with the welcome! We arrived at a calm and leisurely pace on the Saturday and had plenty of time to settle ourselves down into our various styles and modus’s’s’s’s’ of accommodation. For Dinky and myself and a friend, we’d opted for the yurt. For those of you unfamiliar with this type of shelter, a yurt, is a very nice looking, wooden framed and canvas covered tent. […]

By |November 13th, 2011|Animal Assisted Therapy|0 Comments

Getting HumAnima “out & about”!

It’s been a while since I last updated the blog but simply because I’ve been rushed off my feet. September has been a busy month and I’ve been doing my best to get our presence out there and known.

I haven’t been to business school or done a business degree course but knowing a little about psychology and being interested in what makes people “tick”, I thought that thinking about marketing and doing marketing would involve employing my creative capabilities, psychological knowledge, counselling expertise with a pinch of patience, a dash of money and a smidgen of luck. Well suffice to say that if that’s what I thought (which I naively did) then I was on another planet….

Respect to the marketing executives, creative directors and general marketing know-it-alls out there. “Doing” marketing is like learning another language. I kid you not. It requires as much “oomph” as learning the past participle superlatives and demonstrative pronouns of any language – be they North, South, East or West! I can honestly say this learning journey is going to be without a doubt the hardest and the longest – it is going to continue non-stop and hopefully develop (with my growing marketing ‘awareness’ ).

My existing marketing expertise amounts to – and the best advice I can give ANY emerging enterprise – go out and network! Even if you think it might not be relevant or that a given event is only marginally relevant to what you are doing, still go! You never know who you might end up chatting to whilst enjoying your cup of tea during break, who might sit next to you whilst listening to the latest about micro-enterprises or who might spot your name on […]

By |September 23rd, 2011|Animal Assisted Therapy, Counselling, Psychotherapy|0 Comments

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

“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