This week we were visited by Nadia from Radicool Reptiles to join us in one of our sessions with a client. The idea of huge slippery, slimy, and slithery reptiles hanging out in the office was a little bit nerve racking and anxiety provoking for us!
We discussed why such a fear may be and pondered on the strange social construction that such animals are viewed as fearful and how this is engrained into us. Nadia mentioned that in her experience she notices many younger children rarely showing any fear of the snakes. We also know that a trained, well handled python is not at all putting us at risk at all – it should be scarier getting into a car!
So we welcomed Nadia and her love, excitement and knowledge into the office and as our young person sat, calmly and fearlessly with a 3 metre python, Will and I stood back and watched, asking questions to allow us to feel more at ease.
During the session Will bravely managed a huge python around his neck, and explained his reaction as strangely calming, having a snake around you like a coat. Will mentioned that it was kind of like a weighted blanket that many children and adults are given as a calming and soothing tool.
We spoke about how we often we work with and see professionals in the mental health field working with therapy dogs, or horses in equine therapy and how working with snakes incorporates another element or layer to the experience of therapy with animals. As Nadia explained, snakes are so misunderstood that having an element of perceived fear, children and adults experience a kind of whirlpool of emotions as they learn about what makes snakes dangerous, how to embrace our fear and work through it, and eventually hold or touch a snake and feel such a different sense than fear.
The processes teaches empathy, as Nadia asks children to pretend they are a snake, how vibrations may upset or frighten them, how they have no arms and legs to defend themselves with.
We’re feeeling very grateful to have had this opportunity and we’re excited to collaborate further with Nadia to compliment some of our therapy that we already do in the bush and in the office.
True North Expeditions, Inc. provides adventure therapy programs and services for children and teenagers in Australia. Based in Adelaide, the TNE team writes about child and adolescent psychology, family dynamics and how adventure therapy programs can connect with struggling adolescents.