Molly’s Dog Assisted Psychology Canberra

molly dog

At Capital Psychology Clinic, we are pleased to bring Molly’s Dog Assisted Psychology (Animal Assisted Therapy) to the Canberra community. Interacting with animals can enhance psychosocial wellbeing and documented benefits include reduced stress, lowered heart rate and blood pressure, reduced loneliness and isolation, increased social interaction and connection and increased socio-emotional functioning. 

What is Animal Assisted Therapy?

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) refers to the work of a specially trained human-animal team in which the human is a credentialed therapist and the animal has met certain specific criteria for participation.  AAT is a goal-directed intervention in which an animal that meets specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process. 

Animal Assisted Therapy and Children

Our trained psychologist uses AAT to address a wide range of child and family problems, including developmental, social, emotional and behavioural concerns.  Interventions with dogs have been used with a broad variety of child/family difficulties such as:

Anxiety (Generalised, Separation and Social) Depression
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Social Skills and Empathy Training
ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder Anger Management
Bullying Selective Mutism
Learning difficulties Attachment issues
Shyness, Self-Esteem, Assertiveness Training Emotional Regulation
Trauma, Abuse, Domestic Violence  

Examples of therapy goals include:

Improve social skills Brighten affect and mood
Learn about appropriate touch Address grief and loss
Improve self-esteem and self-worth Improve reality orientation
Improve cooperation Improve problem solving skills
Improve memory and recall Improve ability to express feelings
Improve attention and concentration Improve ability to trust


About the Molly’s team at Capital Psychology Clinic

Nicola Peaker, Registered Psychologist

Nicola a registered psychologist with many years of experience working with both children and adults and She has worked across clinical, disability, educational, early intervention and rehabilitation sectors.  Nicola holds a Masters degree in Special Education and is trained in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Positive Behaviour Support, Mindfulness and Dog psychotherapy.  Nicola provides therapy for children and families experiencing behavioural and emotional issues including anger and defiance, anxiety, depression, sleep issues, and problems with social skills. She has experience working with children and adolescents who have been diagnosed Autism and ADHD. Nicola is also passionate about working with adults using a range of evidence-based therapies.

Nicola has an excellent understanding of, and demonstrated skills in, working with dogs and clients having worked as an Instructor with Guide Dogs for several years and now as a psychologist using dog therapy techniques.   After many years training dogs recreationally, Nicola now holds the position of Agility Instructor with the Belconnen Dog Obedience Club.  Nicola has had dogs all her life and trained her current dogs from puppies with a view to working with them as "therapy dogs". Nicola is a trained and qualified dog therapy psychologist with to work in a team with her dogs Toby and Lottie.

Border collies as a breed are considered intelligent and able to learn very quickly. Border collies also seek eye contact which is important in teaching social skills. Dogs generally are playful and active, social animals who enjoy people and children, live in the here and now, are often expressive of their emotions in ways that children can understand and live in the ‘here and now’. Interaction between the dogs can also provide unique therapeutic and learning opportunities.

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Toby is a Tri-colour border collie. He is 6 years old and very calm, gentle and caring. Toby is very responsive and sensitive to changes in mood and behaviour. Toby has completed all levels of obedience training and currently trains and competes as an agility dog. Toby loves playing with a ball and would play with one for hours and hours! He also loves having his tummy rubbed. Toby has completed his Therapy Dog training and holds a certificate as a psychotherapy dog to work in a team with Nicola.


Lottie is a black and white border collie. She is 5 years old, very happy and playful. Lottie is very intelligent; learning new things very quickly. She loves to engage with people and has a cheeky side! Lottie has also completed all levels of obedience training and currently trains as an agility dog. Lottie loves to swim and running under the hose. Lottie has completed her Therapy Dog training and holds a certificate as a psychotherapy dog to work in a therapy team with Nicola.