Irma profile August 2023 copy

I am Irma, @irmatherapydog, and I am working at Mullum Road Psychology Clinic every Wednesday with my human, Stine, who is a family psychotherapist and couples counsellor.

When I work with humans I always try and be my most helpful self. I would describe myself as extremely human-focused, very affectionate, and rather superior at tuck of war. Although I am an experienced therapy dog (3 years +) I attend regular supervision to support my self-regulation. I can still get very excited if someone throws a ball and I do struggle with a strong fear of missing out.

I was born in Lilydale on September 16, 2017. I am a pure-bred Labrador Retriever, but because I was the runt of the litter, I am quite small compared to most Labradors I know. This doesn’t stop me from having a BIG personality.

I feel best when I am at work with Stine meeting human friends. I am always super friendly to everyone I meet, and I strive to be my most respectful self - this means redirecting my intense sniffing away from humans towards objects.

At home, I enjoy relaxing with my cat buddies Monroe and Bethany. I love water and I swim whenever possible. I also like lying in mudholes to cool off and chewing sticks. Don’t worry, I get regular baths, so I stay nice smelling with a shiny coat.

When I am not at work or relaxing with my cat friends, I volunteer at the Alfred Hospital, doing the rounds supporting medical staff and patients. This is a very happy space for me as I get to go to the hospital canteen afterwards for fruit snacks. In my free time I also support Stine’s mental health by being her highly motivated running pal.

You might ask what a therapy dog like me can help you with? In the therapy room I will be supporting you with my loving attention, non-judging personality, and unconditional positive regard. Sometimes we will train skills together or play, depending on who you ask. We might also enact role plays or go for walks together to ease the therapy process. At other times I might just be your calm couch companion that supports you through the inevitable ups and downs of therapy.

Research supports my positive effect in maintaining client engagement and supporting therapeutic outcomes. Often clients will describe that they experience a reduction in their body’s stress levels as well as an increase in their overall mental well-being when they spend time with me. In research articles this is referred to as the ‘oxytocin effect’. My clients will often feel a surge of hormones such as oxytocin and dopamine as they engage in a meaningful way with me.

Here are some photos of me and my friends – come say hello if you see Stine and I in the clinic.

I work with...

Stine Neerup

Family Psychotherapist and Couples Counsellor
PhD, MCounselling