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Clients of one Mississippi psychology practice are treated to an extra dose of love and support thanks to the psychologist’s dog joining them on the couch.
Stonewall, a 12-year old Boston Terrier, was just 6 weeks old when psychologist Mary Evelyn Brown brought the tiny pup home and comforted him through his first night in a new place.
Today, Stonewall offers that same calm and comfort to Brown’s patients, sitting in on every appointment and lending a paw to patients that could often use a little pick-me-up. Stonewall has his own chair in Brown’s office, but joins clients on the couch when he senses they need him.
In an interview with the Clarion-Ledger, Brown explained “There have been studies done that say the stress hormone, cortisol, goes down with animals in the room. And another neurotransmitter, the bonding hormone, will go up. It’s almost a neurobiological phenomenon that goes on between dogs and humans.”
She went on to explain that Stonewall has been especially helpful with clients suffering from PTSD.
“I’ve found it makes it easier for them to talk about things when Stonewall is in the room. … therapy is supposed to be accepting and non-judgmental. What reflects those two things more than a dog? And it reflects who I am as a person.”
Brown describes Stonewall’s duties at her office with his very own section on her practice’s staff page:
Stonewall, my dog, is a Boston Terrier who accompanies me daily to work. He has his own seat in my office and quietly listens as I talk with clients. He often goes to the waiting room and will bring clients back to my office.
Why is there a dog in the office?
Dogs are often a symbol of unconditional acceptance which can have a very calming effect for my clients.
Stonewall provides a relaxing atmosphere to begin the process of sharing. He is a loving animal who senses distress in others. Often, he tries to comfort clients when they are distressed.