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
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) including phone sessions, face to face at a mutually agreed location or home
visits and am generally available Monday to Saturday by appointment. 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,
My thoughts are with you. Linda.
I was raised on a farm, surrounded with companion animals of every kind. Moving countries, my family had to say goodbye to our animal companions which was a very heartbreaking experience. Many years later we adopted a 12 year old dog, Polar, whom we loved and adored for about 3 years until cancer took its toll on him. Polar became a very important family member. At the time of his passing I was overseas and not able to say my final goodbye and it was at this time that I truly recognised the strength of our bond. We now share our days with our pug, Bruno. He’s taught me so much more about love for an animal and the bond we share.
Our animal companions become a part of our lives, they provide us with unconditional love and in return we build a special and intimate bond with them. Pets become members of our families and when they are gone we can feel completely lost. In recognising the impact of pets in our lives, I am now one of only a handful of certified Pet Loss Bereavement Counsellors in Australia with accreditation from the Association of Pet Loss Bereavement, founded by Dr. Wallace Sife, Ph. D. I currently provide online pet loss support and through the APLB for those that are at various stages of their pet loss bereavement.
With my own experience in pet loss, I recognise the strength of a companionship bond and how the loss of a pet can greatly impact our lives, along with the significant value of pet loss support. Grief is a journey we are taken on, the experience is challenging and full of mixed emotions. I am passionate about assisting others with their loss of a beloved animal companion and can support you through your healing process, whilst helping to keep your beloved pets memories close to your heart.
As an insightful counsellor I am in touch with the needs of my clients and can follow them throughout their journey. I am able to help people overcome many issues they may need assistance with in a sensitive and respectful manner. I am trained in and have experience with relationship and couples counselling, anxiety, depression and mental health, trauma, grief and loss, domestic abuse, recovered memories, time management and many other personal issues. I am also a passionate animal lover and can counsel in grief and loss of pets, having first hand understanding what it means to people to lose an animal that feels like more than a “pet”, that cant just be replaced at a whim of purchasing a new one. My Greyhound Skylar is a therapy support dog within the business and my clients love it when she is in session. She is 5 years old and a beautiful, gentle girl who I just adore. When people as if she is a “rescue” I can honestly say yes! But she rescued me! All of my clients are made to feel valued and validated.
I live with my gorgeous daughter of who is a registered nurse, and have a wonderful caring partner, together with our 2 dogs, 2 cats and a horse. My practice is located in the beautiful wine district of McLaren Vale.
Relationships are the key to life. For many of us animals make up a huge part of the relationships we have throughout our lifetime. I have lived with and loved animals as part of 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 which touch our lives and for whom we feel deeply may at this time be unwell, may have disappeared, been stolen, you may have had to make the very difficult decision to part with due to moving, they may be a wild animal or 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 booking. See my website for information and fees.
“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
Hi. I’m Lesley and I have been a grief counsellor for over 20 years working with hundreds of people going though many different kinds of losses. If you are going though 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 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…
I TAKE PET LOSS SERIOUSLY AND I WILL TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY
Since working in this area I have discovered, and can also relate as a pet owner myself, that we find it difficult to give ourselves permission to be upset about losing our pet friend. We can feel tremendously “silly” and “guilty” for mourning our beautiful pet friends. This can prevent us from reaching out when we most need to. 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 will be heartbroken when your best friend is no longer with you.
PHRASES THAT MAKE YOU ROLL YOUR EYES: “It was just a dog. You can get another one.” “I didn’t think you’d still be so upset about your missing cat.” “You can get another bird, you know.” “Are you still upset about your horse dying?” “Don’t be so selfish. People are losing loved ones and you are crying over a pet.” I could go on, but I won’t. You get the point. And if you’re reading this you may have experienced this sort of sage advice from people when your pet has been sick, gone missing, died, or left your life for some other reason. Such “advice” is not helpful. In fact, it’s hurtful. I’m a pet owner and I have experienced this myself.
I use a client-centred approach in my counselling, meaning I will relate to you as the unique individual that you are. I will help you to feel validated and understood. I will offer you hope, whilst also reminding you grief cannot be rushed and is a different process for everyone. I will help you to determine what that process may be for you.
Please reach out if you need support. I am here to support, accept and guide you. You will speak directly to me, or hear a message with my voice. I like clients to know they will deal directly with me, especially at a vulnerable time like this.
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.
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.
Vanessa provides confidential and evidence based support for bereaved pet owners, volunteer and professional animal caregivers. She provides a warm and non-judgemental approach and will give you the safe place you need to tell your story.
She has 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). She has worked in the animal industry for over 20 years where her roles varied from veterinary nurse to animal welfare researcher. She has lectured and tutored psychology and human behaviour for over 7 years and, as an adjunct research fellow at La Trobe University, she regularly presents her work at international and national conferences and publishes in peer reviewed journals.
Vanessa values the importance of ongoing professional development and has also achieved her training as a compassion fatigue specialist (therapist), mindfulness trainer, certificate in animal bereavement. She is a member of the Anthrozoology Research Group, associate member of the Australian Psychological Society and Psychotherapists and Counselling Federation of Australia.
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 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.
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.
Please contact me for an Obligation free chat via email/ phone for more information.