The Therapeutic Animal Assisted Activities programme, affectionately known as The Baxter Project after our veteran companion animal, combines trauma recovery practitioners, companion animals and physical activities with the aim to improve physical, emotional, educational and social wellbeing through companionship, ultimately using relational interventions to mitigate the long term impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and utilising therapeutic outcomes to assist in positive change.
Research indicates that ACEs and Childhood Trauma can impact upon children's cognitive, emotional and social development. As such these children can display low self-esteem and are more susceptible to stress, anxiety and social isolation, emotional dysregulation and challenging behaviour.
The Baxter Project is Trauma Informed, encouraging exercise and play, but above all rapport building. The programme works with schools to identify the young people who are most at risk of developing anti-social behaviours or attitudes offering them the opportunity to engage with a positive role model and a playful animal who are disassociated with any formal institution allowing for gradual relational work to be completed. Relational work is ongoing, peer to peer, trusting relationships are established in a low impact, low stress, therapeutic environment. It is the quality of the relationships established that provide a 'secure base', a platform to build a pro-social mindset, to assist in recovery and to communicate that adults can be trusted, initiating the development of positive engagement and attitudes.
What makes the programme unique is the involvement of companion animals, who themselves naturally promote self-confidence and reduce anxiety but most importantly, lower defences and bridge communication with the trauma recovery specialist. It is this presence of companion animals that facilitate the early relational work, we promote Consistency, Predictability and Reliability (CPR), resulting in stability and eventually trust. Once the trusting relationships are established, pro-social attitudes can be reinforced, anti-social attitudes can be challenged without the risk of retaliation and we can even complete targeted workshops, be it Managing Aggression or Consequential Thinking etc. Once this relationship has been established significant results follow.
This is the primary aim of our activities, to engage with young people in a bespoke manner, using innovative and unique techniques that expedite relational development and companionship, facilitating positive engagement, positive change and therapeutic outcomes.