Before becoming a patient of Dr. Atkins, I never had received any treatment from a therapist or psychiatrist. Naturally, I was nervous the first few meetings. I was surprised at seeing her dog, Murphy, in the room along with us. However, simply the appearance of the adorable puppy helped me relax. She told me his presence in the room, among other benefits, might give some comedic relief. For me, not only did he provide that, but having a third being in the room eased up the tension somehow and just made me more at ease.
I believe that only certain type of people, those with patience and big hearts, are capable of caring for dogs. Seeing that Dr. Atkins owned a dog, it gave me a very good first impression of her. I was able to relieve my stress and problems much more easily. I feel that having a therapy dog in the room helps both the therapist and the patient.
My son Nathan began therapy with Dr. Atkins in the fall of 2008. We had just put our family pet to sleep that same fall, so it was a very hard time for him. He had been diagnosed with an eating disorder the previous year and we had moved to the Midwest and back to the DC area for my husband’s work. During the year that Nathan began therapy with Dr. Atkins, Murphy was integrated into their sessions. Nathan seemed to be much more comfortable with Murphy there and really looked forward to seeing what mischief that Murphy could get into during Nathan’s hour with Dr. Atkins. Since Nathan is more of an introvert, I think that having Murphy in the office made him more at ease to talk and share things about himself. Murphy is just the sweetest and gentlest dog and he’s happy to greet everyone and be their friend. I know that he helped along our decision to go ahead and make the big leap to adopt another furry friend for our family after being without one for a couple of years. I highly recommend Murphy as a therapy dog. Overall, I think that animal assisted therapy is a great way to get patients to feel more at ease and remove the foreboding feeling of going to the doctor.
When Dr. Atkins brought in her dog Murphy, I became instantly joyful and energized with just the presence of a dog in the room, as I am a dog lover. With Murphy in the room, it almost felt as if I could let out my feelings and thoughts about myself and my eating disorder more easily. Was it maybe the calm environment that Murphy created? With a dog in the room it made it feel like home to me and relieved any pressure I had when I came to talk with Dr. Atkins.
As an anorexic teen, life has been, as one might imagine, rather difficult. From when I obsessively started running endless laps around a track in my early years of unhealthy mania, to the various foods I would desperately smother from view during countless seemingly inedible meals, to my hospitalization due to malnutrition, it is clear that I suffer from the dreadful, mind revolutionizing disease of anorexia nervosa. The question, and perhaps greatest difficulty that arises today, threatening my family, friends, and me, is how to conquer my incomprehensible illness. I will not say that Murphy, a small, white, curly-haired Bichon, is the cure to my illness, but is rather the passageway to my alleviation.
You see, as I endure the many hardships of anorexia nervosa, the arguments, betrayals, and shattered relationships, I find that the constant and effective source of relief to my troubles is comfort. Yes, comfort. Comfort to me is a sort of drug, enlightening my spirit and giving me hope that there is a better future somewhere out there. All I have to do for its obtainment is to keep digging, farther and farther, slowly regaining normality along the way. Murphy, in this case scenario, would be my shovel, a tool helping unearth a route to treatment that lies ahead, somewhere beneath the many obstacles of stones and rocks.
I remember once recounting a story that was quite depressing during a therapy session. The grief inside me, however was somehow stuck, leaving me choking on my tears and sourness. As Murphy sensed my uneasiness, he shuffled into my lap and started caressing and licking my face and neck. It was then that my tears spilled out, relieving my pain. I realized at that very moment that Murphy had more potential than I ever would have expected from such a small creature. It was a life changing experience that made me realize how much of an aide Murphy could be in a psychologist’s office.
As I hope that I have shown, Murphy makes an excellent therapy dog, not only for me, but for many others. I know how well he must certainly assist others in their horrible, life changing experiences as he has done for me. May a grand future await Murphy the dog!
The most therapeutic thing about Murphy is his unconditional love. When my son enters Dr. Atkins’ office, Murphy rises to meet him, his whole little self, wiggling and wagging. Murphy clearly brings no judgments with his warm greetings, and this kind of whole hearted acceptance seems to melt whatever awkwardness or shame my son may have brought with him into the session. He is free to relax his hands into the soft fur of this supportive friend. With a therapy dog like Murphy, my son feels loved and lovable, an importance piece of any healing process.