Psychologists treat clients with a little help from their furry friends

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By pairing clients with animals, registered psychologist Eileen Bona and the staff at Dreamcatcher Nature-Assisted Therapy Ltd., have helped dozens of people overcome developmental and social hurdles.

Most of the therapy animals at Dreamcatcher have had some kind of trauma or were donated from local residents.

“We could go buy animals if we wanted,” says Bona. “We could buy the perfect animal that’s going to be the perfect therapy animal but we believe there is a whole population of animals out there that need a home.”

While not the most conventional form of treatment, Bona has found treating clients who are nonverbal or have trouble communicating.

Zach Wilm was Bona’s first client and first success story. Suffering from autism and seizures since he was an infant, Wilm has made great progress through bonding with a horse named Rain.

“It’s not magic and it’s not a miracle but if (animal therapy) fits it’s like a key in a lock,” says Bona of Zach’s time at Dreamcatcher. “And they haven’t found the right key to fit the lock yet, and maybe this is it.”

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