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Couple Therapy Session

Animal-Assisted Therapy in Counseling

We are delighted to introduce Koa who will be working with Dena Willeford, LPC

KOA - Waiver & Release form


Any client interested in AATC is scheduled for a 50 minute initial intake session with Dena Willeford, LPC to go over the client’s history with animals, policies for working with Koa in session and what to expect while having Koa in a session with the client.


AATC is the incorporation of pets as therapeutic agents into the counseling process. Under the careful guidance of Dena Willeford, Koa can contribute to the client’s recovery process. The overall goal is to improve a client’s social, mental, emotional and behavioral functioning by way of interacting with Koa during therapy sessions. Clients will be screened for appropriateness before participating in any AATC sessions.


  • Koa can provide comfort and support in a non-judgmental manner
  • Koa may help to reduce the stress of therapy for clients and may allow for quicker and greater recovery
  • Koa can add joy, encouragement and a playful ambiance to a therapy session
  • Koa can help clients develop empathy, experience unconditional acceptance and open-up about challenging life experiences. The relationship between Koa and Dena demonstrates the mutual trust and nurturance potential in both the therapist and the therapy animal
  • The relationship between Dena and Koa assists the client to build trust in the therapeutic duo, thus creating and reinforcing the therapeutic alliance
  • Having Koa present can allow clients to explore their issues and concerns for a longer amount of time and on a deeper level
  • Koa has the capacity and desire to nurture people and the ability to detect and signal emotional distress he perceives in the client
  • Working with Koa can also contribute to physiological benefits, such as decreased heart rates/blood pressure and increased oxytocin, which adds to a person’s overall health and well-being

Therapy Animal Background

At Forever Hope Counseling, Koa holds the following titles and certifications: AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program and AKC Canine Good Citizen Program. He is also currently working on his AKC Community Canine and AKC Urban Canine Good Citizen Program.  Koa is a chocolate F2b labradoodle.  Outside of his workday with clients, Koa lives at home with his therapist mommy, her husband, children, and fawn F1b labradoodle sister, Hattie. He loves to play with his favorite toy (which is a giant squeaky donut), relax, snuggle, play doggie puzzles, do tricks, indulge in yummy treats, steal socks and attend weekly continued education classes with his facilitator.  Before meeting Koa, the client will be instructed on how to conduct themselves around him, taught how to greet him and how to understand some of his non-verbal commands. This will help to make the experience positive for everyone.