Hey Wy! I hope you don't take this the wrong way but what do you actually do?
Hey, no woofies! Sometimes I wonder that myself. From my perspective, here's how the day goes. Dad gets up at some ridiculous hour of the morning and walks me--oh, not that early in my day? Got it. The work stuff. Mom asks me if I want to work today. I always want to be Dr. Dog but she says consent is important so she asks me every time. Most of the time I prance and wag and make it really obvious that I want to go so she doesn't leave me at home. Sometimes I do want to stay home and nap though. We drive to work (my least favorite part) and I brave THE STAIRS. Mom says I have to brave THE STAIRS if I want to see people though and she gives me apples when I get to the top for being such a brave guy. I would probably do it without the apples, but please don't tell her that. Next comes one of my favorite parts--morning treats! After that I wait until someone comes to visit me. You are coming to visit me, right? Not Mom? Yeah, me. Everyone says hi to me first so you must be there for me. After scratches and treats if you want to give me some (you do, right?!?!?) we settle in for a while. Mostly you and Mom talk but sometimes I notice you getting upset. When that happens, I like to come over to you to comfort you, Sometimes I'll ask for scratches to help you. Sometimes I'll lean against you to help. Mom calls this a type of Deep Pressure Therapy. I don't know what that means but I know if I touch you that you calm down in your body. And I know I feel better when my body is calm. I do other things, too, but this is a lot of woofing.
Dear Wy, how did you become a therapy dog? What's your story?
Mom says she didn't teach me to be a therapy dog on purpose. She says I just am. But I am trained and certified because apparently just BEING my awesome self wasn't quite enough. So here's my story.
I was adopted from the Greenville Humane Society in January 2014. I lived at home and mostly played with my boy for many years. During that time, Mom took me for normal dog training (she called it obedience training but honestly I just do what she asks to make her happy and for treats). Mom was a different kind of social worker then and I got to sometimes travel fun places with her. Then one day she brought me to work with her for the whole day! I really loved it and I got to help a new friend talk about something that was really scary for her. You see, I am big and strong and I could protect her from the scary memory. And that's how everything started. Mom started going to school to be a Veterinary Social Worker and I met the nice people at the Alliance of Therapy Dogs to be certified. I must be better at it though since I'm all done now and Mom is still in school.
Hey Wy! How do I know when I should come to therapy?
You know, that is a really good, really personal question. I would say you should come see me anytime you have treats for a good dog. But Mom says you're not actually coming to see me and that I'm there to help you. So maybe the best answer is you should come to therapy when you want help making a change. You see, sometimes people feel sad or scared or nervous and I really like to help with that. Sometimes something bad has happened and remembering feels bad. We can help with that.
Hey Wy! How do I know when I should come to therapy?
Wyatt's answer was pretty good from his perspective as a therapy dog. I thought I'd go ahead and add my feedback as well. In general, it might be time to consider therapy when you are struggling with something that is causing distress and negatively impacting one or more areas of your life. For example, it might be time to consider therapy if you are experiencing anxious thoughts that distract from doing your best at work or school, if you've made unhealthy changes in your life to cope with stressors, or if you find yourself stuck in patterns of thinking that aren't healthy for you. Other examples inlcude finding your relationship stuck in unhealthy patterns or having the same argument over and over without making progress.
If it seems like these might be very common concerns, they are! NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Health) reports that 1 in 5 adults in the United States struggle with mental health conditions each year with around 1 in 20 experiencing serious mental illness. Unfortunately, it is also common for people to make their way through these conditions alone as less than 45% of adults with a mental health condition received treatment according to NAMI's most recent statistics. In the United States, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death with an increase of over 35% since 1999. These are devastating statistics. If you or a loved one are having thoughts of harming or killing yourself, please reach out for help:
NAMI Greenville, SC Crisis Line
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Veterans Crisis Line
Crisis Text Line
Text SIGNS to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free crisis counseling
You don't have to do this alone. Your story matters. We would be honored to hear it and walk with you toward change.
Mental Health Conditions. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions
Mental Health By the Numbers. March 2021. Retrieved from https://nami.org/mhstats
Understanding Psychotherapy and How It Works. July 31, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/understanding