Murphy, a yellow Labrador Retriever, joined Dr. Faulconbridge’s practice in February 2020. Murphy has been highly trained to work with patients in a therapy setting by Paws and Affection, a non-profit organization in Narberth, PA, dedicated to training and placing service and facility dogs for young people with a range of disabilities. With the client’s consent, Murphy works with Dr. Faulconbridge in a variety of ways to help clients reach their therapy goals.
For thousands of years dogs and humans have enjoyed a unique bond and the history of animal-assisted therapy interventions is long. In the 19th century Florence Nightingale noted that small pets relieved depression in many of her wards. Freud himself often kept a dog in the room when talking to children and adolescents because he found that they were willing to talk more openly about difficult issues with a dog present.
Recent research has shown that dogs facilitate attachment in individuals struggling to establish trust, especially in those with a history of trauma, including child abuse. Clinicians use therapy dogs to aid in the development of trust between the patient and the therapist, and between the patient and others in their lives. Dogs can also help clients to learn and practice self-soothing skills and they can offer critical support during specific therapeutic interventions which may be challenging for the client.
Dogs have unique abilities to touch humans in ways that we cannot yet describe properly. Their intelligence, innocence, and empathy make them special beings and Dr. Faulconbridge is honored to help clients experience the gifts that a therapy dog can offer.