Douglas Nichols

The bonds we share with our companion animals are unique, fulfilling and imbued with personal meaning and connection. We are blessed with their living and loving presence, so it goes without saying that we deeply grieve when this relationship changes through loss. We may also find ourselves in the unenviable position of deciding if our companions are suffering too greatly to maintain a quality of life. Weather you have lost an animal companion or are struggling with difficult questions about compassionately euthanising a loved one in the future, I am here to support you.

 

I offer a safe and informed space where you can explore the difficult experiences and questions that arise, openly and honestly, allowing our grief to move forward in such a way as we can honour the memory of our beloved companion animals.

I understand that I am not only working with a unique individual, with their own story of loss, but with the memory and story of a unique animal companion. For some, a pet is an animal we share our space with. For many of us, though, a pet is a best friend, a companion, a family member, a trusted confidant, a source of love, joy, stability, and a supportive and caring figure in our lives.

 

 

Warmly

 

Douglas Nichols

Fiona Koenig
I began my professional career in a very different industry, working with animals in a Veterinary Clinic. I found that when an emergency occurred or during the end of life process I was drawn to providing support to the families. I realized that this is where my interests lie; providing a space for families to grieve the loss of their beloved Pet.
 
The unexpected loss of my 3 year old cat, Artemis reaffirmed my belief of how important it is to recognize how deeply we grieve the loss of our pets. In our session I will show your grief the honor and respect that it deserves by creating a safe place for you to talk. Together we will work towards finding meaning from our losses and begin to step forward in life without our pet, though always remembering the mark they have left on our lives.
Linda Michie

Hello there. I’m Linda, pleased to meet you. I have always had a great love of all creatures great and small and a genuine desire to help others as far back as I can remember.

I have had animals (cats, dogs, birds, fish and even a lizard or two to name a few) all my life. Sadly, in 2017, I said goodbye to one of those very special pets we meet along the way, my beautiful black Burmese rescue cat, Merlot. He was with me for 18 years. I was heartbroken, finding the absence of his presence one of the hardest things.

My journey through loss drives me to walk beside others as you find your way through your journey. My approach is gentle in nature and very much focused on you. I offer flexible counselling options (you are welcome to browse my website to learn a little more). This includes phone sessions, face to face at a mutually agreed location or home visits. I am generally available Monday to Saturday by appointment and some phone sessions may also be available Sundays and public holidays on request.

Our relationship with our pets is unique. They are such a constant in our life and the loss of that relationship is immeasurable. We face many challenges as we watch our pets age; as we support them through illness; as we prepare to say goodbye; and as we find our way after they are gone.

Wherever you are in your journey, please reach out, I’m here.

My thoughts are with you. Linda.

Rebecca Lowe

Relationships are the key to life. For many of us, animals make up a huge part of those relationships we have. I have lived with and loved animals throughout my life. I grew up surrounded by dogs, ducks, geese, cats, birds of every kind, pet mice, rabbits, fish and I had horses – an animal loving family! Now as an adult I absolutely understand the significance animals play in our lives, the devotion they can have to us, the deep bonds we have with them and of course the searing loss when they pass.

I worked as a Couple and Family Relationship Therapist meeting with individuals, couples, families and children for a leading national family and relationship organisation for over a decade. I provided therapeutic support to many people regarding the relationships they have with the animals and fur babies in their lives. Now in my own private practice I am able to take that even further and offer: Animal Inclusive Therapy, where your animal companion is welcome to join you in the counselling sessions (without having to be a registered assistance animal) and Walk and Talk Therapy, enabling being outdoors while receiving counselling assistance. I also offer online therapy (via video link up through ZOOM or Skype) and phone counselling.

The animals for whom we feel deeply, may at this time be unwell; may have disappeared or been stolen; you may have had to make a very difficult decision to part with because of moving; they may be a wild animal; the companion to someone else or a memory from a long time ago. Whether the animal be feathered, fured, scaled, on two legs, four or swim; your grief, worry or distress is your own, you have a right to feel it, express it and be heard.

Please feel very welcome to contact me with any questions or to make an appointment. See my website for information and fees.

Lesley Loughnan

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
Anatole France.

Hi. I’m Lesley and I have been a grief counsellor for over 20 years working with hundreds of people going through many different kinds of losses. If you are going through the loss of your beloved pet – as I have done recently – and resonate with my story and approach, I would love to work with you.

As a counsellor/psychotherapist, yoga teacher and long term Buddhist practitioner, I can’t help but incorporate a ‘bigger picture’ approach when working with clients who are grieving. ie. an understanding of the impermanence of life, the great mystery of our brief, finite physical existence and whether that continues in some other way beyond physical death. I find dwelling in this mystery with others is one of the most profound things we can do together as human beings. I have encountered many, many people who are overwhelmed by their grief, and often don’t have safe places or people with whom they can share these feelings. Many of these feel their beloved one around them, and even have experiences of contact beyond death, but these experiences are difficult both to share with others and to understand for ourselves.

I recently lost my beloved cat, Asha. ‘Asha’ means ‘hope’ in Hindi and he indeed brought hope and joy into my life. He was a spirited and loving daily companion and was with me for 16 years. I miss the relationship between us every day. I miss the essence of him, the physical comfort of his presence, his quirky ways, and the very real expressions of affection and love between us. He made my house a home and it feels empty without him. He was often my co- therapist, sitting beside many of my clients in their sadness, and (usually!) available for cuddles. I spent most of his life trying to keep him alive and happy and well, from his days as a wild and wayward kitten right up to becoming an elderly cat with arthritis, kidney disease and lymphoma. The sudden end to all that loving care and attention can be overwhelming. It has struck me that the expression “grief is just love with nowhere to go” is very true.

In working through my own loss, I have been reflecting on how unacknowledged losing a pet often is in our society, and hence here I am  wanting to help others going through this experience. In our world, there are some precious people who “get” how enormous our grief for our animals is. Unfortunately there are many who don’t, and this can add significantly to the loneliness and isolation that can sometimes come with grieving our beloved companions.

Occasionally, losing a pet comes as a sudden and traumatic event which adds an enormous dimension to the depth of our grieving process. All the latest research on working with trauma – known as poly-vagal theory – points to working with physical therapies alongside counselling to help change arousal patterns in the body and mind. I have been using somatic (physical) approaches with my clients who have suffered trauma with much success, such as tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and many of the traditional yogic breathing and deep relaxation practices, and have found these to be very successful in conjunction with deeply empathetic counselling.

I’d love to talk to you if you are going through a difficult time over the loss of your beloved one.

Lesley Loughnan with her cat Asha
Madonna Hooper

Are you struggling with…?

  • I’ve been told I need to euthanize my pet
  • My pet has passed away
  • My pet experienced a traumatic death
  • I’m not coping with the death of my pet
  • I feel guilty regarding how my pet died
  • I don’t know whether to get another pet
  • My pet has a serious medical condition
  • My pet experienced a traumatic injury
  • I’m not sure whether to rehome my pet
  • I had to rehome my pet
  • My pet may need surgery
  • My pet has had surgery
  • My pet is missing

I believe friends, confidantes, soul mates and best friends come in all shapes, sizes and forms, including the form of a pet. It makes perfect sense you may experience overwhelm, heartbreak, confusion, anger, anxiety, and many other thoughts and feelings when you go through these challenging times.

Having someone who can truly listen and help you to unravel the myriad of thoughts and emotions you are experiencing, can provide you with much needed guidance, comfort and support.

I’m also a trauma therapist, having undertaken several courses with the Blue Knot Foundation (National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma). I also worked as a Trauma Therapist prior to starting my own business. Many of us experience trauma, as well as grief, when going through the situations above. It’s important to have a therapist who is aware of trauma-informed practice during these times.

Please don’t suffer in silence. I take pet loss seriously, and I will take you seriously.

Sunset Vets Counselling

University of Queensland Psychology Clinic Program for Grief Support

In 2018, Sunset Vets and the University of Queensland Psychology Clinic established a partnership to help support clients through the initial stages of grief associated with the loss of an animal companion.

This program allows for anyone struggling with the loss of a pet to access complimentary services by professionally supervised, provisional psychologists who are undertaking advanced postgraduate study in Clinical Psychology.

This is a referral based program that supports clients with up to 90mins of one-on-one support, as well as access to further subsidised consultations through the Clinic if additional follow up care is required.

If you would like to apply for this support, please contact the Sunset Office

Please Note: We welcome referrals from other veterinarians across Australia. Please get in touch to find out how we can best support your clinic.

Dr Vanessa Rohlf

Companion animals play an important role in our lives. They provide us with unconditional love, support and share our ups and downs. We consider them our family; our children, siblings, friends, and confidants. When this special bond is broken and our beloved pet dies, grief can be a painful yet very natural and necessary response to loss.

Sometimes grief can be overwhelming and during these times it can really help to talk to a professional who understands and appreciates the importance of the human-animal bond and the grief and trauma that can arise when we lose our companions.

I provide confidential and evidence based support for bereaved pet owners, volunteer and professional animal caregivers. I provide a warm and non-judgemental approach and will give you the safe place you need to tell your story.

I have a Bachelor of Arts with honours in Psychology, a Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy, and a PhD with a specialisation in psychology (human-animal interactions). I have worked in the animal industry for over 20 years where my roles varied from veterinary nurse to animal welfare researcher. I have lectured and tutored psychology and human behaviour for over 7 years and, as an adjunct research fellow at La Trobe University, I regularly present my work at international and national conferences and publish in peer reviewed journals.

I value the importance of ongoing professional development and have also achieved my training as a compassion fatigue specialist (therapist), mindfulness trainer, and have a certificate in animal bereavement. I am a member of the Anthrozoology Research Group, associate member of the Australian Psychological Society and Psychotherapists and Counselling Federation of Australia.

Susan Wall

Having worked in the Pet Boarding Industry for over 22 years I have been exposed to many people who have shared their stories of loss of a much-loved pet over that journey. Some to accidental passing, illness, old age or have “gone missing”. The pain and grief of that loss can be hard to cope and recover from. I will support and work with you to understand those feelings and help you come to terms with that loss. I also have been a pet owner for all my life and understand the sadness and shock when you lose your much-loved pet and companion. I too have lost my best fur friend not so long ago after an 18 year journey together, the pain was heart wrenching.

Animal companion loss and grief is recognized professionally as a serious emotional condition that is often as difficult to cope with as the loss of any family member or friend and should not be left untreated.

The healing journey can begin with talking about the loss, acknowledging the passing of your pet. In saying this, the length of time it takes to accept that loss will vary from person to person. You can’t begin to cope with your emotions until you let them out.

It could be that you maybe are struggling to make the difficult choice of letting go of a much-loved pet companion to avoid further suffering due to illness or old age. I can offer support in making the decision if it is the right time to euthanize and work with you on the pain, strain and guilt associated with that decision.

Please feel at ease to contact me for a consultation either by telephone or to arrange a face to face meeting.

Sajee Wijesena

Our pets become our best friends and companions and whether we are prepared or not for their loss it is always heart breaking ! It is like losing any member of the family.

I have lost two beautiful German Shepherds ( one only in February this year) in an untimely and tragic manner so I truly understand the grief, heartache and guilt that accompanies such a huge loss. It is very important to express your grief, and although the pain never really goes away, I can offer a kind, supportive ear to help you cope during this most difficult time.

I am available for counselling sessions either via phone, Skype and Zoom.

Please contact me for an Obligation free chat via email/ phone for more information.

No referral required.