My dog has become a regular in my mediation practice.
When I first introduced her to the practice, I thought that she would be a pretty passive participant. She has been coming to work with me for years, though it used to be only on days without clients. In those days, "going to work" meant that I worked and she slept.
Well, now that she has entered the mediation world, it turns out that she wants to have a much more active role in "going to work."
1. She thinks that her job is to bark when people knock and then greet them enthusiastically when they enter. I could do without the barking.
2. She knows that if she wins the clients over, then they will pat her during the mediation. Ideally, they will let her sit somewhere between the two of them and perhaps they will both pat her at the same time. That is perfect, as far as she is concerned.
3. She also will perform her own interventions during the mediation if she thinks that it will help.
- If someone is crying, she may go to that person to comfort that person.
- I had a mediation where the couple had argued heatedly, had settled down, and were ramping up for another heated argument. My dog groaned loudly. We all looked over at her and laughed. The tension was dissipated by a dog groan.
We see service dogs in hospitals and in nursing homes, helping people through some of their most difficult times. Many therapists in my office building bring their dogs with them to work.
My dog has decided that she can provide some comfort to people in the midst of conflict as well. And she is right!
I watch people reach out to her or call her over as the conversation gets tough.
When we pet a dog, our brain releases oxytocin, a hormone which makes us more likely to trust and less likely to respond negatively to external stressors. Oxytocin is a very helpful hormone to have present in the midst of a difficult mediation.
Petting a dog has a calming effect, helping to lower your heart rate and blood pressure. This helps to counteract the fact that your heart rate and blood pressure are rising in the midst of a difficult conversation.
So, make an appointment to mediate and get two mediators for the price of one -- me plus my dog.