The HSE Centre for Psychological Counselling held dog therapy sessions on June 20 at Dubki dorm and on June 21 in the courtyard of the HSE building on Khitrovka.
Final exams are stressful, and sometimes they’re not easy to deal with. Therapy dogs can help alleviate stress and give students an emotional boost. At the event, students were invited to pet, hug and take photos with friendly, specially trained therapy dogs. HSE University Life editors had a chance to attend the second meeting with therapy dogs.
Ten minutes before the dogs’ arrival, gaggles of students gathered in the courtyard: students checked their cameras in anticipation and tried to spy the guests – the crowd stirred every time barking was heard. At last, the canistherapy team appeared: dogs with harnesses made their way to a space equipped with a stage and a swing.
At first, everyone was shy, but by a few minutes later, students had formed a close circle around the dogs: everyone wanted to pet them or at least see them up close. Canistherapists told the audience how the dogs work, whether they get tired, and how one should behave with them. It was hot outside, so the therapists first wanted to bring them water. After that, they were ready to follow orders, be hugged and pose for photographs.
Sergey Ishanov, research assistant at the Centre for Psychological Counselling, said this kind of therapy for students is quite popular at universities abroad. ‘The Student Development Office came up with the idea to organize this event. We are grateful to the United Animal Therapists Association, who willingly agreed to the idea.’
According to Sergey, the main inspiration for the event were other international universities’ experiences with it, as well as the proven advantages of canistherapy. Dogs help students relieve psychological and emotional stress and improve their mental state both during examination periods and in everyday life.
Despite the large number of participants, the dogs were calm and happy. According to a canistherapist at the event, Olga, the length of the event – an hour and a half – is most preferable for the animals, though they still have to rest and recuperate after the sessions. That’s why different dogs took part in the two meetings.
The event attracted a lot of participants: staff and lecturers of the schools of media and integrated communications joined the students. And the courtyard had never before been the backdrop to so many photos!
This was HSE University’s first—but not last—experience with dog therapy. HSE will certainly continue the practice, and therapy dogs will become regular helpers to HSE students.
HSE University Life editors welcome all fuzzy methods of relieving stress and are always happy to inform you about the new ones.
By Maria Eremina