An Introduction to Animal-Assisted Therapy

intro to AATObviously animal-assisted therapy is pretty important to me AND to 12 Points and I’m thrilled to see how much traction it’s getting within the mental health field now.

The more people out there providing evidence-based animal-assisted therapy services, the more clients can benefit from this innovative (and entertaining) field of psychotherapy.

However I’m also a big believer in setting yourself up for success, especially when we’re talking about the interactions between therapists, their animals and their clients.

That’s why I’ve put together a 4-week training program, specifically tailored to mental health professionals who are thinking about incorporting animals into their therapy practice.

This 4-week course will be delivered via a closed FB group and features:
– up to date research articles on the science behind the effectiveness of AAT,
– case studies discussing AAT in Action AND
– ongoing support and mentoring.

For those who access the group before the 1st of November, they’ll also have the chance to have more personalised content delivered to them via 4 livestreamed lectures/demonstrations (the recordings will also be saved for everyone to access at anytime they join).

In the 4 livestreams we’ll cover:
– how to find your animal co-therapist, OR
– how to work out if your existing pet might be suitable as a therapy animal,
– how to access the best training for you and your animal,
– policies and procedures (including insurance and tax-related issues) when incorporating an animal into your workplace.

To sign up, just go to our ‘Resources for Sale’ page and click on the paypal link or email for more information.

Open and ongoing access is only $97 until the end of 2019.

I hope to see you online soon!

Danielle Graber
Clinical Psychologist & Animal-assisted therapist
Director – 12 Points Psychology

Veganism and Mental Health: The Cost of Caring

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Hi! I’m Amanda, a counsellor, primary/secondary teacher and an excited new member of the 12 Points team!

Whilst my work at 12 Points will predominantly focus on working with young people experiencing challenges with social, emotional, behavioural and learning issues, I have actually been asked to talk about something else that I am equally passionate about, the link between mental health and veganism.  I am a dedicated vegan; having made the transition from vegetarianism about 5 years ago. I really wish there had been a counsellor available to me at the time who could have supported and guided me, especially given how emotive, and often misunderstood, the term ‘vegan’ has become in recent years.

According to Google Trends, Australia was the most popular country for veganism in both 2017 and 2018 and was also the 3rd fastest growing market for vegan products in 2018. The largest growing demographic of vegans is those between 16 and 34 years old, with the most common age group transitioning being those between 19 and 21 years old.

With this steady growth within the vegan community, prominent Australian vegan psychologist Clare Mann conceived a terrific new concept in 2017 – ‘Vystopia’.  This term perfectly describes how many vegans feel and explains why so many may benefit from therapeutic support. Vystopia refers to ‘an existential crisis experienced by vegans, arising out of an awareness of the trance-like collusion with a dystopian world’. In other words, when someone ‘goes vegan’ they are suddenly confronted by the fact that, whilst they are living in line with their values, the rest of the world is not and now appears cruel and unkind in comparison. It can be a frustrating existence in which one may experience abuse, critcism and ostracization because they no longer support particular mainstream views. Vegans can find it extremely difficult to find someone who understands these feelings in a therapeutic setting.

Like Neo taking the red pill in the Matrix, we’ve seen how far the rabbit hole goes and it can be a daunting, isolating place, especially when you consider that as a community, those who choose the vegan lifestyle tend to be highly empathic and sensitive people.


It must be noted that some new vegans may, in fact, take the red pill and embrace this newfound opportunity to create change without detriment to their mental health. However, most will experience a significant shift in their psychological wellbeing and struggle with the adjustment to this new world and the burden it brings. For the latter, vystopia can generate symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, PTSD as well as sleep and behavioural disturbances. Some people may also withdraw and disconnect from previously supportive systems who don’t share their personal views and/or develop strong emotions such as grief, anger, intense guilt, a sense of isolation, or a feeling of helplessness.

The good news is, there are strategies and resources available to help work through the grief and distress that exists with vystopia. Much can be done to help a vegan client make sense of their experiences via modalities such as Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT), Solution Focused Therapy (SFT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Mindfulness, communication skills and resilience strategies can also be invaluable to support particular vystopian presentations.

At 12 Points Psychology I am not here to promote and convert people to veganism. However, I am here to offer a safe space for those who are thinking about, or have taken, the red pill and are finding it hard living as a vegan in a non-vegan world.

Please feel free to email me any questions at and I look forward to working with you all!

Amanda Atchison
Adolescent Counsellor


Can I Bring My Dog to Sessions?


As an animal-assisted practice, a question we get all the time is ‘can I bring my dog to my sessions?’ While we’d love to accommodate everyone, and we love meeting new dogs (obviously!) we also have to be considerate of our other clients and the therapy dogs working at the practice.

If you’d like to start bringing your own dog to sessions, please give us a call and we can arrange a Meet & Greet with admin or clinicians, as well as some of our therapy dogs, to get a sense of how you and your dog deal with the people and situations at the practice. Please don’t bring your dog along for a session until you’ve done the Meet and Greet as, if your dog isn’t suitable, we don’t want you to miss your session!

In order for us to consider allowing your dog to attend sessions at our practice, your dog MUST be:

  • desexed,
  • vaccinated, with an up-to-date vaccination certificate provided upon request,
  • in good health, clean, and free from parasites (fleas, worms etc.),
  • toilet trained, and
  • on leash or halter at ALL times.

Most importantly, your dog must NEVER have shown aggression to people or other dogs.

Please note that these requirements are not negotiable.

Ideally, your dog will also have at least basic obedience and manners. Preferred training providers include Lead the Way therapy-animal and support-animal training, Alpha Canine Group dog training or Patient Paws dog training. If you and your dog have done training through any of these organisations, it will be much easier for us to approve your dog.

Thank you for your understanding and helping us to keep 12 Points a safe and welcoming space for humans and canines alike!

Mathew Keany
Facilities & IT Manager