By Peter Goldenthal, Ph.D., ABPP
About fifteen years ago, I began bringing Shira, my Portugese Water Dog, to the office, mostly so that she wouldn't be home alone all day. It soon became clear that she was exquisitely aware of the most subtle changes in the emotional temperature of the office. When patients were clam, she lay quietly next to me. When they were upset, she lay by them or licked their hands. And when there was a high degree of unexpressed conflict between spouses or partners, she paced. I thought I had stumbled on something unique until I remembered seeing photos of Freud's Chow, Jofi, and reading about how Freud would refer to Jofi in his interpretations. I am not aware of Freud referring to Jofi as a therapy dog or writing about animal assisted therapy. It seems clear, however, that he was ahead of his time in this as in other things. Read More
By Peter Goldenthal, Ph.D., ABPP
As I was leaving my monthly dog trainers’ meeting, I had the sudden realization that training dogs to behave better is far too limited a goal. Your dog can do better than that. You and your dog can do better than that. You may be Read More
Each of us has his or her way of forming attachments to other people. This “attachment pattern” develops during infancy and early childhood and persists throughout life. Although you can’t do very much to change your attachment pattern, sometimes called an “attachment style,” you Read More
Jake told me how his dogs Lucy and Alice, both Chihuahua mix rescue dogs, have changed his life. “I didn’t even realize that I had as much of an anxiety problem before I had dogs. Lucy softened me up so much and I didn’ Read More
Much of what happens between person and dog seems magical. Someone loses a dog, visits a shelter, and as if by chance, comes home with the perfect canine companion. Many people say, as if channeling the wand maker in Harry Potter, “the person doesn’t choose the dog, the dog chooses the person.”
This Read More
My posts over the past weeks have focused on some of the many ways that the bond between person and dog can be mutually therapeutic. Today, I’m going to switch gears to address a semantic question: what is the difference between a dog being Read More
Those who are familiar with my writings about contextual therapy, whether in books or blog posts, may be wondering how my more recent writing about the human-dog bond and about pet therapy–and animal assisted therapy– are connected to contextual therapy.
The answer is straight forward, and it takes us back to the core Read More
Working with your dog, whether it's practicing sitting and staying or learning a new trick, is a great way to strengthen the bond between you. Choose an activity that lets your dog stretch his or her mind, that is within their capabilities, and includes lots Read More
The more experience one has as a psychotherapist, the more one comes to rely on one’s personal attributes and one’s relationships with patients.
Early in most therapists’ careers, graduate training has a huge influence. Most psychology training programs, especially those that are part of research universities, emphasize the importance of acquiring theoretical Read More
Today I’m going to relate the story of how a very special dog helped his person learn to be more socially engaged. Hank, a coon hound, had been found by the side of the road in Arkansas, starving and with a huge infection in his leg–the result of having been used for Read More