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Therapeutic Pups

Therapeutic Pups is an animal-assisted therapy (AAT) or “pet therapy” service provided at Children’s National. Therapeutic Pups started in 2010 in the outpatient Eating Disorders Clinic when the clinic’s director began using a dog, (Murphy, a Bichon Frise) in her psychotherapy with adolescents with anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Clinic patients range from ages nine to nineteen and parents are involved actively in the evaluation and treatment process.

The Eating Disorders Clinic is a program within the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, which is part of the Diana and Stephen Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health.

Please Note: Therapeutic Pups does not offer therapy dog training or certification.

Our current therapeutic pup is Murphy.


Therapeutic Pups integrates animal assisted therapy (AAT) into the psychotherapeutic work with adolescent eating disorder patients.

Meet Murphy

Our current therapeutic pup is Murphy, a one and a half-year-old Bichon Frise. He has received extensive training and has achieved his Canine Good Citizen award through the American Kennel Club.


Children's National offers helpful resources about animal-assisted therapy.


Learn more about Children's National's animal-assisted therapy (AAT) service by reading stories from patients, families, and clinicians.

Pups FAQ

Find answers to questions asked about the Therapeutic pups program.

Contact Us

To contact Darlene M. Atkins, PhD, you call 202-476-2164 or email her at

See Photos of Murphy

Therapeutic pup Murphy meets Dr. Bear

Therapeutic pup Murphy has helped many patients at Children's National.

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