NAMI Connections Recovery Support Group
Pawing For Recovery
NAMI Southwestern Illinois and Furry Friend Recovery make dogs a key part of NAMI Connections Recovery Support Group. Read more here.
Furry Friends Make A Difference
With the encouragement and support of NAMI National Board Member Victoria Gonzalez, our most recent accomplishment has been the creation of a specialty NAMI Connections support group using FFR therapy dogs to ease anxiety, provide comfort, encourage communication and motivate people to attend. The format of the group is the same as any other Connections group, but there are two or three therapy dogs wandering around the room.
Because dogs also experience emotions and trauma, their handlers are asked to share a few sentences on behalf of their dog, which makes the dog a part of the group. For example, one of the dogs had been homeless for a while, and a group member who had also been homeless opened up about his experience to the group.
Sometimes the dogs are simply a source of comfort, helping build rapport within the group and encouraging sharing. Other times, members may be more interactive with the dogs by playing with them before or after the group, petting them while talking about an emotional issue or asking them to do a few tricks to lighten the mood. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive: