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  1. #1
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    Default Pet Therapy and CBT

    I figure since people seem to like documenting their experiences with different kinds of therapy, I'll document one of the first types of therapy I've tried. It's a little different though, so I'm not so sure it belongs here. Hopefully it can be moved if it's in the wrong place. One of my mother's ideas to try and help me overcome my anxiety was born from seeing her patients benefit from having companion dogs. She had the idea that perhaps getting me a puppy would be a help in overcoming all of the anxieties I have.

    I got Monty about three weeks ago, when he was about 7 weeks old, because his mother wasn't taking care of him properly, only the other pups, and he wasn't assertive enough to push through his siblings to get fed. So the breeder made sure we had another dog (who is not a companion dog by any stretch of the imagination) to try and teach him some manners and basic dog ways of life.

    He's now 10 weeks old and I think I'm seeing a difference in my anxiety, as well as in me as a person. I'm feeling more confident with myself, because I think I figure he needs me, so I have to be strong for him, because when I'm not okay, he can tell, and gets edgy, too. I feel that having him around has the possibility to really help me out.

    I'm also having CBT, which I'm really hoping will help me with my emetophobia. I'm hopeful. I started today, and I can't wait for my appointment next week. I'm so sick of living with this, I just want it to be gone, and I'm determined to beat it. So hopefully the combination of having Monty, and undergoing CBT is going to be the thing that finally helps me.

    The first session of CBT was exactly as Sage said it would be. The therapist, Jo, asked me lots and lots of questions, and got to know each other. It was really nice to tell someone everything, and have them say that they think they can help me. I'm hoping we'll get down to the really business end of things next week. I guess I'll post again when I've had my second session. It seems she's worked with emetophobia before, which gives me a whole lot of hope, as well.

    To end, a picture of me and Monty



    I'm going to keep updating this on mine and Monty's progress. :-)

    Hope someone gets something out of this.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Aaah that's a lovely picture you look so happy and little Monty is gorgeous! You sound really positive about everything which is great, good for you for going for the CBT and I hope between that and Monty you can beat this phobia. Good Luck!

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    My puppies help me, hope you get the same effect I did xx

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Thanks guys :-) I hope so too! I'm really sick of living the way I am, so I'm hoping that something good comes out of it

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Ahhh I wrote a wall of text and it got deleted!!! Oh well I'll sum it up.

    Anxiety therapy dogs are increasing in popularity, most notably for victims of agoraphobia. Though they don't need extensive training like seeing eye dogs, some people still put them through therapy training. I personally believe that animals sense you even without training, and are good for anxiety relief on their own.

    The advantage to having your dog trained as a therapy dog (more sprecifically a Psychiatric Service Dog for anxiety issues) is that he's considered an official service animal, meaning no pets allowed signs don't apply to him. He can ride with you on a plane, go to the coffee shop with you, or come to the movies. This does require extensive training to get that title though, and most people buy the dog after he has been trained.

    I think your pup will suit you well Just being near him and loving him will teach him how to respond to you, and he'll pick up on how you're feeling.


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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    A therapy dog would be lovely to have (I'm just trying to find an excuse to bring a dog with me everywhere)

    I actually met a woman who had a therapy dog to help her with her anxiety, although she never said what it was. Her dog's job was to get between her and people who stressed her out or making her feel scared. If that didn't work, then should would move to barking at them (it was a small yippy dog, so it wasn't scary). He was such a well behaved dog. She had just recently gotten the dog, going out on a tour during her vacation was sort of a test for her. Apparently, the dog worked wonders. Even without him having to bark people away, just knowing that he was there gave her peace of mine.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Hey guys! So I had my next CBT session a few days ago, and my therapist has started an interesting exercise with me. She did a couple of exercises with me in the session, and told me that my breathing is all out of whack, that I take shallow breaths even when I'm not anxious, and that's probably half of the reason why I get so anxious so easily, because I'm already halfway there most of the time. I wonder if anyone else is like this too. Anyways, she asked me to buy a really cheap digital watch. One that beeps on the hour. Then she said that when it beeps, I have to relax and drop my shoulders, balance my head (peoples heads tend to lean to one side when they're anxious or stressed), and take deep breaths, the way people are meant to breathe, apparently. Anyways, she told me to watch a baby breathe, because they are the most relaxed, efficient breathers you'll find. It's a bit tedious to do every hour on the hour, but if it works, it will be worth it. She also drew me an interesting graph, which kind of changes the way I think about anxiety and emet.

    She told me that the only people who don't feel any anxiety at all are people who are dead. Everyone feels anxious at some point or another. Then there are 'normal people' who have little spikes in stress or anxiety, but they manage to come back down to a level of relaxation afterwards. Then there's us. We're experiencing some level of anxiety all the time. It's just the way we're programmed, to have high anxiety, but the point of therapy is to bring us down to the orange line. There's a huge chance we're still going to be anxious a lot, but it cuts out those big spikes and makes things more bearable. It kind of made me realise that I'm not going to be a 'normal' person. I'm probably always going to have some anxiety, but it's possible to manage it. So far, this has really helped me!

    As for Monty, he was amazing the other day. My boyfriend was at my place and he wasn't feeling well. It wasn't nausea, but he had D* and a lot of gas, which usually makes me anxious. I was sitting on the couch trying to calm myself down by breathing, and Monty jumped up on the couch, curled up on my lap and went to sleep. This is a dog who usually runs around like a crazy. We can hardly ever calm him down. It was such a surprise. It didn't take away my panic, but it helped me to manage it, which is usually more than I can do by myself. It's been fun watching him learn things and grow up, too. He's getting so big now.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Aww he's looking so adorable! It's so sweet that he does his bets to take care of you when you're nervous


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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Awww....what a great idea about the puppy! Animals totally calm people down - petting them is great for calming us. And they also sense when you're anxious and it makes them anxious. Like a little furry barometer or something...."emetometer" - lol

    And it sounds like your CBT therapist is right on! Work hard, ok? And you'll find great relief from your anxiety.

    Good luck!
    For more info about emetophobia and treatment:

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    DISCLAIMER ~ Any advice I give on this forum is well-intentioned and given as to a peer or friend or for educational purposes. It does not in any way constitute psychotherapeutic or medical advice. Please discuss anything you may learn from my posts with your doctor and psychotherapist prior to making any decisions or changes or taking any actions.



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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    He's been a great help so far. Even though he's still learning, he seems to already be really tuned into how I'm feeling. I like that, he's my little emetometer.

    Thanks, Sage. I'm planning on working as hard as I possibly can. I'm sick of living like this. :-)

  11. #11
    Holliee<3 Guest

    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Your puppy is adorable. (: I just know he'll help you tons. I did the same kind of thing, except with horses. Don't ever give up, and you'll get through this. Good luck on your journey (:

  12. #12
    tinky2 Guest

    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I must say that has to be THE cutest puppy I have EVER seen. So glad he's there for you. I'm hoping CBT will work for me. I just started seeing a therapist and I am hoping he is the right one for me.
    Best wishes!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Haha, thanks, Monty is a pretty special little guy.

    I really hope CBT goes well for you. I've only had two sessions, but I'm already seeing a difference in the way I look at things, and with my general anxiety levels. I wish you the same success :-)

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Aw, he's a cutie! I know both my dog and cat can sense when I'm in a state. My cat will come curl up with me and something about hearing him purr is just relaxing!
    Pets are the best!
    And best of luck to you
    “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

    “We are the girls with anxiety disorders, filled appointment books, five-year plans. We take ourselves very, very seriously. We are the peacemakers, the do-gooders, the givers, the savers. We are on time, overly prepared, well read, and witty, intellectually curious, always moving. We pride ourselves on getting as little sleep as possible and thrive on self-deprivation. We drink coffee, a lot of it. We are on birth control, Prozac, and multivitamins. We are relentless, judgmental with ourselves, and forgiving to others. We never want to be as passive-aggressive as our mothers, never want to marry men as uninspired as our fathers. We are the daughters of the feminists who said, “You can be anything,” and we heard, “You have to be everything.”

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    He looks like a sweetie!

    One question, though: do you ever get anxiety about your pet being sick? For the most part, my dog keeps me sane, but I've noticed in the rare occasions where he's sick or gags on something, my anxiety rises. How do you handle situations like this?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    I do, definitely. There was one time he got carsick, and I couldn't be around him without panicking for a couple of days, but luckily I have a good mother who was happy to care for him while I was recovering. I think I got lucky with him though. The only thing he's eaten so far which made him really ill was milk that had been spilt on the floor. Everything else he's had he's been fine with. I do see it as kind of a desensitisation, in a way, since puppy sick makes me less anxious than when people are sick.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Oh, and just for good measure, here's another picture. He's growing so fast!!


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    I haven't had a CBT session for about a month which is frustrating, but I have another scheduled for a few weeks time. I'm living for that day at the moment.

    My emet and anxiety in general, and my depression have been pretty bad lately, and it's mostly due to the fact that Monty had surgery. I'm afraid of pets vomiting as much as people, in most cases, and I was terrified that he was going to be ill from the pain of the surgery, or from the drugs he was given and I couldn't be around him for about two days after the surgery was done, and then for another day after, I could only be around him when my mum was around. I cried for three days straight because every noise he made would make me flinch and make me panic. I was SO frustrated. My dad wasn't helping much either. He has a bit of a victim complex. He makes himself the victim in EVERY situation, so he doesn't take into account how I feel, he only cares how HE feels. That makes me feel even worse because he's just pointing out how much pain I cause everyone around me.

    Either way, my boyfriend has been absolutely amazing. He's laid with me while I cried my eyes out, and he's taken me out, and made sure I was fine. He's been so amazing. I'm so lucky to have him understand me. I'm so grateful for him.

    Anyways, I thought I'd post this, and to post a photo. Monty was desexed, and he had his hernia repaired. He's got a bucket on his head to stop him licking the stitches, and he has to wear baby socks on his back feet to stop him scratching at the hernia wound. He looks SO pathetic, but cute, too. He gets his stitches out on Monday though, so that'll be good for him :P He's so frustrated with it all.



    You can't see him all that well, but you get the idea.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Aww he's getting so big! Keeping away from those stitches can be rough, but soon he'll be able to walk around without a party hat


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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Heehee, he gets his stitches out on Monday. We can't wait until he gets the collar off because when he chases us, he runs into the backs of our legs and it HURTS. He's getting heaps better about scratching the stitches now, so I don't have to watch him so closely :P

  21. #21

    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Pet therapy is probably one of my best coping methods. I've got a 100 pound lab, who was about 25 pounds, when we started training for these behaviors. He learned to lay across my lap or chest and be very warm and solid and still. If I was having a legitimate panic attack, he would lick my face and make whining noises. If I am just feeling frightened, or have imaginary nausea, he just lays on me very still and wags his tail and lets me grip handfuls of his extra skin. [He's at a healthy weight, he just has lots of skin! lol] This is the same for any sort of anxiety i'm feeling, even if i'm anxious about nothing!

    He's also trained to handle my attacks when we're out [along with emet i've got social anxiety and GAD] mostly by being very steady right next to my legs, because I cry when I panic and can't see straight, so he keeps me from wobbling/falling over. He knows its time to head back home or to the car and he heads that way. If we're in a crowded place, and i'm uncomfortable, he often puts himself between me and what makes me uncomfortable--And I didn't train him that! He also knows how to help me up off the ground when I need.

    I'd really, really like to call in a trainer sometime, train him properly and get him to pass his Canine Good Citizen test so I can go about making him a license PTD [Psychotherapy dog], So he can go everywhere with me! I feel SO much less afraid of EVERYTHING If my dog is with me.

    Also, Pets v*ing scares me WAY less than humans. Like, I have a cat who v*s ALL THE TIME [Sometimes she eats way too much, way too fast] and while I do feel the initial rush of fear, with my heart rate increasing and stuff... it fades almost instantly and I just get annoyed with her for a mess to clean up. Same with the dog. So that's not an issue for me.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Aw, your dog sounds amazing. Monty is starting to learn those kinds of things. When I'm panicking, he comes and jumps into my lap, and just sits still, or he leans on my body and just stays there. He puts himself between me and things that make me uncomfortable and anxious. He's been really really amazing. Even if he does make me anxious when he vomits, but almost all animals and people are going to vomit at some point. It's a bit unescapable.

    As for Monty, he's feeling much better without his collar and baby socks :P he's been running around like a crazy for the last week. Except for one day when I was feeling really anxious and panicky. He sat with me almost all day, and he only left my side to eat and to go to the bathroom. He was amazing.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    Dogs are AMAZING! I have a golden retreiver and whenever im feeling anxious i always just have her lay with me. She wont get up and bother me she'll just lay right by me and cuddle! It always makes me feel so much better when she's around. She's obviously not legitamtely trained like yours, i idnt even know dogs could do that! I wanna look into that! Im so glad you have your dog in your life i love mine too!

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Pet Therapy and CBT

    I'm going to look at getting Monty properly trained as well. He has a natural instinct for protecting me, I think, but I'd love for him to be trained to do it by someone else, so I can take him places, too

 

 

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