My dog / cat takes me to the shrink!
When an animal presents a behavior annoying it is recommended to take it to a behaviorist who will have the mission to determine the cause and find solutions to remedy it. However, these solutions often go through actions on the environment of the animal, and in particular with its master... hence the utility of calling upon a therapeutic pair that acts on both humans and animals.
Take your dog to a behaviorist, that's fine. But that he takes you to the psychiatrist, maybe it's even better! Indeed, many environmental factors influence the behavior of the animal : the personality of his master, the events that the master lives, his way of dealing with problems, to understand the needs of his animal and respond to it (or not) play a significant role in the animal's mental and behavioral states. Thus, many annoying behaviors heal or subside by acting not directly on the dog, but more on his environment, starting with his owner.
What is the point of consulting a behaviorist and a psychologist?
However, the behaviorist justly tends to neglect the owner. Concentrated on the animal, he can forget that it is his master who goes wrong (physically, cognitively or psychologically), and that the dog, real emotional sponge, is undergoing the repercussions.
It is to better take into account this aspect that the veterinary and behavioral practitioner Dr. Thierry Bedossa has associated with the clinical psychologist and Dr. ethology Sarah Jeannin. Together, the pair is for patients with four legs and two legs. "When you only look at the animal without taking the human into account, you miss some or all of the problem," says Dr. Bedossa. We can not treat the behavioral problems of the animal without being interested in a major element of its environment which is the set of humans with which it is in relation, their states, their needs and their behaviors."
The behavioral medicine consultations thus consist in exploring the behavioral problems of the companion animals and in parallel, the problems of the animal-human relation, to determine the causes and put in place the most appropriate treatments. This approach is equivalent to that of consultations in child psychiatry: the clinician receives the child, his parents, the three together. As in family therapies, the animal is approached not as an isolated individual, but as part of a system. The annoying behavior (the symptom) is often a reflection of a malfunction in the system. In the world, it seems that the innovative initiative of Thierry Bedossa and Sarah Jeannin is a first!
How are the sessions held?
In concrete terms, Sarah Jeannin speaks initially briefly with the owners of the animal, then draws a first balance sheet. Then, the consultation - which takes place at the veterinary clinic of the Pont de Neuilly, in Neuilly-sur-Seine (92) takes place with the animal, its masters, the veterinarian-behaviorist - who brings his knowledge on the animal - and the psychologist. The latter's mission is to "give a little more space to the expression of the needs of the owners and the refer if necessary to a psychotherapist , "she explains. She also mediates between the veterinarian and her client: "I am attentive to their reactions, I am buffering, and the client is generally happy to have expressed his emotional states."
The behaviorist is an expert in behavior animal. He may find himself in a delicate situation where his recommendations to improve the welfare of the animal are not compatible with the needs or desires of the master. The role of the psychologist is primordial here: it will be finding "compromises" , to bring "flexibility" in the recommendations so that the animal and its master find a place just in the relationship and their needs are heard and respected
Often helpless in the face of a symptom that they can not interpret in their animals, the owners end up suffering from guilt, anger or even aggression, or discouragement. The presence of a psychologist during these sessions can turn this guilt into responsibility . It helps to guide the owner and his animal so that they can find a fair place, respecting the needs, specificities and limits of each for a shared well-being.
To read also: I consider my animal as my child: error or not?