Before she meets a new client, therapist Rosie Barclay will read through their medical notes and then meet them face to face. Over a cup of tea, she will observe their body language and find out what the main concerns are, before coming up with a treatment plan.
So far, so normal. But the clients Barclay deals with are of the four-legged and furry variety. âI deal mainly with dogs, but also cats and even horses,â says Barclay, who is a clinical companion animal behaviourist based in the Channel Islands.
âAfter doing a degree in animal welfare and behaviour, I was doing a masterâs and wondering what to do for a career. One afternoon I was watching a TV show about rescuing and rehoming animals, and I remember saying to my husband, âI wouldnât do it that way. They should try this insteadâŚâ He turned to me and said, âWhy donât you do this for a job?ââ
By âthisâ he meant animal behavioural therapy, an industry that has surged in the past few years as pet owners seek help to remedy behaviours such as neediness or aggression, and ease anxiety. Pet mental health has become big news for insurance companies, too. Last week, it was reported that payouts to treat mental health problems in pets topped ÂŁ750,000 in 2019, a 50 per cent rise on 2018.