A one year old St Bernard puppy called Millie has joined Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust’s (RDASH) Grounded Research team to help youngsters to overcome their fear of dogs.
New recruit Millie has been enlisted on the Alleviating Specific Phobias Experienced by Children Trial (ASPECT). A research study that tests the potential of using One Session Therapy with children who have a specific phobia to dogs, compared to the usual Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which is carried out over a longer period.
It is estimated that around five to 10 per cent of children have a specific phobia which is severe enough to impact on their everyday life affecting their mental health, wellbeing and development.
Millie is being trained to improve the treatment for children aged between five and 14 years old and who are experiencing a specific phobia of dogs. She will support the therapists by helping them to assess how scared the child is of dogs. She has also been used in a training video for therapists who will be providing the One Session Therapy.
Millie’s owner and Research Programme Manager at RDaSH Rebecca Hargate said: “Millie has such a pleasant nature and it is great that she is involved in this research. The One Session Therapy involves Millie sat in the same room as the child so that for they can get to know her. The aim is for the child to slowly get closer to Millie with the ultimate goal of giving her a pat. We hope that the work that Millie is doing and the results from the ASPECT study will make a positive difference to many children’s lives.”
One Session Treatment is carried out over a single three-hour session using a combination of techniques that include the gradual exposure therapy, participant modelling, reinforcement, psycho-education, cognitive (thinking) challenges and skills training. This method has been shown to be clinically effective in children.