Dr. Pott offers Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), with the help of her assistant, Duke (cat). AAT is the use of an animal to enhance physical, social, emotional, and cognitive functioning of a client within the context of a therapy session. For example, he might be helpful in building relationship skills, assessing stress levels, and gauging attachment styles and responses. Duke is not a service animal, and may also be brought into therapy for the sole purpose of easing interactions and creating a safe comforting place to be.
Is Duke Always a Part of Sessions?
No. Duke is invited on a case-by-case basis, often only on Saturdays. Not all clients would benefit from AAT, nor want a cat present due to a variety of issues. Clients who are interested in having Duke present for session can let Dr. Pott know.
What Does Duke Do in Session?
He may come up and greet you, which may include him giving you a kiss or lick. Duke is friendly and open to being pet. He is not often a lap cat, but may sit beside you. Often he sits on the desk and watches you throughout the session. As part of AAT you may be invited to play with, pet, groom, or feed Duke with the support of his handler, Dr. Pott.
Can Duke be Brought in With Other Therapists?
Yes, but this would be limited by availability of Dr. Pott, which is often evenings and weekends only. Please speak to your therapist to help decide if this could be a possibility.
What Are the Benefits of AAT?
Contact with a cat can contribute to health benefits and may help with a reduction of stress and mental health concerns. Feline-assisted therapy is also beneficial if individuals are unable to interact with large animals such as horses or dogs, and may provide a stepping stone into AAT.
What are some of the risks of AAT?
As Duke is a cat a large risk is finding out you may be allergic to cats if you were unaware of this before. While Duke is a calm cat, he may get frightened or be disengaged, therefore some risks might be being hissed at or being ignored and the impact this has on a clients emotions.
Is Duke Safe?
Duke is up to date with vaccines, is groomed regularly and has his claws cut before each session to ensure no scratching occurs. Additionally, Duke has undergone training to ensure that his temperament is suitable within a counselling context. Duke is pending his behavioural test (has to be a year old). That being said, he is still a cat.
You may follow Duke on instagram. Please note I do not respond to messages on Instagram.