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Get a ‘new leash’ on life via Walkies Talkies


A Newcastle mucosal immunologist and clinical psychologist believes animal-assisted therapy is the right step towards healthy mental wellbeing.

And, Dr Linda Thomas BSc (Hons), MSc (Hons), PhD, FAPS, of Med-Psych on King Street, has started a new initiative, Walkies Talkies, to encourage clients to develop a “new leash” on life.

“After more than 30 years’ experience in the mental health field, our psychologists have seen first-hand the incredible difference having a wagging tail sit in with the patients can make,” she said.

“Studies reveal connecting with a dog increases the release of oxytocin and dopamine, promoting positive emotions.

“Research shows playing with a canine can alleviate symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety, too.

“Dogs are also great ice-breakers and often encourage people to be more social as you’re bound to run into someone who wants to stop and say hello when you’re out on a walk.”

Walkies Talkies is a unique program dedicated to the continued improvement and support of the overall health and mental wellbeing of the community.

“We are a motivated and inspired team who are experienced in both the mental health and canine behaviour industry,” Dr Thomas said.

“We’re passionate about the positive impacts pet therapy has as well.

“We’ve developed this initiative to provide a professional counselling experience in a casual setting that is easily accessible to the general public and can assist our clients with managing their mental health concerns, feel motivated and inspired to get outdoors and be active, offer support to those who feel socially disconnected and to promote the overall importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“We do all this while offering people the opportunity to connect with our therapy support dogs, who have been specifically hand-picked by our canine behaviour trainer.

“The difference between our program and others is that we’re not predominantly providing a dog to sit and cuddle in a typical therapist setting.

“Our counselling sessions can be conducted outdoors while promoting physical activity.

“Then, after guiding them on the most effective forms of canine communication, our clients have the opportunity to ‘take the lead’.”

For further details, or to make a booking, visit

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