Animal Assisted Therapy

Therapeutic Counselling

The best way to describe therapeutic counselling is: a range of professional activities that utilise interpersonal relationships to enable people to develop self-understanding and to make changes in their lives. The focus of Counselling is likely to be on specific problems, changes in life adjustments and fostering clients’ wellbeing.

Counsellors work cooperatively with clients to develop responses to difficult life circumstances. Issues may include depression, self-esteem, anxiety, grief and loss, communication and relationships, work and career, stress, life transitions, parenting, spirituality, and difficulties caused by addictions, trauma and abuse. Counselling usually addresses particular issues or concerns for an individual, couple or family. The counsellor will focus with the client on dealing with the feelings and reactions experienced, and will assist the client in developing his or her own resources to find a way of moving forward.

Therapeutic Model

Your safety is of primary importance to ensure that you feel safe at all times. You will always be treated with sensitivity and respect and nudge you along when you need it. Counsellors use a variety of tools and techniques to help you to heal. There is no one size fits all when it comes to recovery and healing. Dr. Geller (within her Scope of Practice as a Registered Nurse) does not use a formula based counselling or operate solely from theoretical models, however focuses on Animal Assisted Therapy and Acceptance Commitment Therapy as the main therapeutic model/s from which to platform from. She works with you in a collaborative way so that together, we can discover the best methods that allow you to heal and lead a more fulfilling life.

Dr. Geller utilises the following formula for both theoretical models:


Dr. Geller is a Dr. in Nursing (PhD: Psychiatric Risk Assessment & Management) and Registered Nurse and maintains her currency of registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Registration No: NMW0001348012). She operates under the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia Practice Standards and Scope of Practice and the International Council of Nurses Code of Ethics.

International Council of Nurses 2012, The ICN Code of Ethics for Nurses, International Council of Nurses, Geneva.

Nursing & Midwifery Board of Australia 2016, Registered Nurse Standards for Practice, Nursing & Midwifery Board of Australia, Melbourne.

Nursing & Midwifery Board of Australia 2013, Scope of Practice for Registered Nurses and Midwives, Nursing & Midwifery Board, Melbourne.


Fees and Session Modalities

Dr. Geller believes in providing an affordable service for clients with competitive fees which reflects her experience, professionalism, caring and respectful manner to help you regain your well-being.

Private Sessions are $ 60.00 each for approximately 1 hour (travel is an additional fee). You are free to reschedule one session at a time and to adjust the frequency of your sessions.

The frequency of consultations can change over the weeks and months in order to accommodate your needs and financial circumstances. Also, Also, make sure you read, complete and return the Conditions of Service. Please email Nursing Essentially for an e-copy, or one can be mailed out to you.

Dr. Geller considers that everybody is different and in certain situations, attending in person is sometime not feasible or possible at times. Therefore, sessions are offered in a variety of ways:

  • In person
    • At the office or,
    • Accompanying a person to another place (e.g. to the dentist, hospital etc.)
One (1) hour session (Therapist’s Dogs):

One (1) hour session (Your own Dog)*:

NDIS Recipient – One and half (1.5) Hour session (Own Dog) – Includes final report after set number of sessions focused on meeting set NDIS Goals and Objectives.

NDIS Report:

$ 60.00

$ 85.00



$170.00 per request

Travel (one way): $ 20.00

*If using your own Dog for AAT, they cannot accompany you to public places unless authorised as an Assistance Dog.

Therapist’s Dog’s CAN accompany you to public places as they ARE authorised Assistance Dog’s.



Ethical Standards

Dr. Geller commits to:

  • recognise and respect diversity among people, opposing discrimination and oppressive behaviour;
  • practices culturally safe care;
  • respect the essential dignity, humanity and worth of all people and promotes this standard in her work;
  • practice in a holistic manner;
  • value respect and kindness for self and others;
  • value informed decision-making, promote autonomy and encourage clients to make responsible decisions on their own behalf;
  • value a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable environment promoting health and wellbeing;
  • consider the social context of their clients and their connections to others;
  • protect the rights of her client/s including the right to informed consent;
  • take all reasonable steps to avoid harm to their clients as a result of the counselling process;
  • maintain her professional competency throughout her professional career;
  • abide by the Nursing and Midwifery Board codes of professional practice and all other associated codes, standards and guidelines.

Professional Standards

Dr. Geller is guided by the Nursing and Midwifery Board’s Professional Boundaries for Nurses to establish and maintain the professional-client relationship. As such the continuum of professional behaviour is applicable in this instance:

Nursing & Midwifery Board of Australia 2010, A nurse’s guide to professional boundaries, Nursing & Midwifery Board of Australia, Melbourne.

Dr. Geller commits to:

  • establish and maintain the boundaries in their professional relationships with person, and where necessary communicate these to that person;
  • is aware of and has the ability to validate the therapeutic purpose of her actions; and takes into consideration the person’s preferences and responses to those actions;
  • is aware of the potential for personal discomfort for both the person receiving care and themselves when care involves touching, holding, other personal contact or invasion of personal space; and responds appropriately;
  • acknowledge when faced with situations which extend the boundary of their competence, seek supervision and consider referral to other professionals;
  • where dual relationships in therapeutic situations is unavoidable, Dr. Geller must be aware of the potential for harm and take all steps to minimise the risks;
  • recognise variables such as the setting, community influences, the needs of the person and the nature of care or therapy they require affect the delineation of boundaries and respond accordingly;
  • understand the complexities if personal relationships develop once professional relationships end as the person may need additional care and services; making it difficult to determine when the professional relationship is truly terminated;
  • examine any boundary crossing, and be aware of the potential implications, avoiding repeated crossings;
  • carefully consider their motives for disclosing personal information. Self-disclosure is limited to revealing information that has therapeutic or care value and only occurs within an established therapeutic or care relationship;
  • the priority for Dr. Geller is planning sessions around meeting the therapeutic and care needs of persons entrusted to their care;
  • reflect on her own needs, behaviours, values and attitudes and beliefs and is conscious of her potential impact in therapeutic and professional relationships with people her their care;
  • be aware of the inherent power imbalance in therapeutic and care relationships, knowing that coercing a person’s compliance may be an abuse of power;
  • Gifts, services & financial relations: Dr. Geller recognises that involvement in financial transactions (other than in a contract for the provision of services) and the receipt of anything other than ‘token gifts’ within professional relationships with persons in their care is likely to compromise the professional relationship.


Dr. Geller commits to respect the privacy of her clients, preserve the confidentiality of information acquired in the course of her work, she will treat personal information obtained in a professional capacity as confidential and will not use confidential information or their position of power to advantage themselves in any way.

The ethical management of information involves respecting people’s privacy and confidentiality without compromising health or safety. This applies to all types of data, including clinical and research data, irrespective of the medium in which the information occurs or is stored. Personal information may only be shared with the consent of the individual or with lawful authorisation.

Dr. Geller respects each person’s wishes about with whom information may be shared and preserve each person’s privacy to the extent this does not significantly compromise or disadvantage the health or safety of the person or others. Dr. Geller complies with mandated reporting requirements and conforms to relevant privacy and other legislation.

Nursing Essentially chooses to be treated as an organisation for the purposes of the Privacy Act and therefore subject to the Australian Privacy Principles and any relevant APP code. Proudly, Nursing Essentially has “opted in” and our Privacy Policy conforms to the Australian Government’s requirements. This signifies that Nursing Essentially, as a small business, is making a public commitment to good privacy practice. You can find Nursing Essentially listed under the Australian Government’s Office of the Australian Information Commissioner Opt-In Register here.

Animal Assisted Therapy

Anecdotally, we all seem to know that somehow, animals can be therapeutic – and, we have the ability to form bonds with them. Historically, even Florence Nightingale, the founder of “modern day” nursing advocated for the health benefits derived from animal companionship, and as early as 1860, she observed that small pet animals can help heal the sick. Similarly, in 1961, Dr. Levinson found that the unconditional acceptance and love provided by pets offer a secure and warm environment for children and other patients, increasing their ability to adapt better psychologically to other people. Other studies have demonstrated that using animals as an adjunct in healthcare had the ability to reduce anxiety and depression, decrease loneliness in the elderly, facilitate an inviting environment for a therapeutic interaction to take place and enhanced the relationship between client and counsellor.

Animal Assisted Therapy is a goal directed intervention in which an animal meeting a specific criteria is an integral part of the treatment process; noting that this highlights the importance of client and counsellor collaborating on a specific therapeutic goal, and using the dog as a tool – rather than the dominant resource of counselling. In this way, we use the term Animal Assisted Therapy and not animal therapy. Animal Assisted Therapy is delivered and/or directed by health & human service provider working within the scope of their profession and is designed to promote improvement in human physical, social, emotional, or cognitive function.  Animal Assisted Therapy improves clients’ mental, physical, social and emotional functioning with the aid of animal and can take place in a variety of settings, including client’s homes, disability services and rehabilitation, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, schools and mental health facilities. This form of treatment can take place individually or in groups, and is led by Dr. Geller, a Registered Nurse with a PhD in Psychiatric Risk Assessment & Management who is also formally qualified as a Canine Behaviourist. Animal Assisted Therapy involves specific therapeutic goals, strategies, outcomes and measures. Therapeutic experiences can include walking, brushing, petting and caring for an animal, as well as processing the experience of trying to achieve a given task – strikingly, the relationship between the counsellor and the dog can be utilised as a model for a healthy relationship. Animal Assisted Therapy can be used in many different ways. Defined objectives are an important part of counselling, and progress is recorded and tracked at structured sessions. The process is documented, evaluated and revised consistently.


The American Humane Association defines Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) on their website as: “a goal-directed intervention in which an animal is incorporated as an integral part of the clinical health-care treatment process. AAT is delivered or directed by a professional health or human service provider who demonstrates skill and expertise regarding the clinical applications of human-animal interactions.”

Dr. Geller is a qualified Canine Behaviourist and utilises Assistance / Therapy Dogs specifically trained by Canine Essentials Pty. Ltd. for this level of professional work in healthcare and social service settings.


Interacting with a friendly dog can help many physical and mental issues. Studies have shown that Animal Assisted Therapy can help not only reduce blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health, but it can also release endorphins that produce a calming effect. This can help alleviate pain, reduce stress, and improve your overall psychological state and has the potential to make you happier and improving your outlook on life. Other benefits includes decreasing loneliness and isolation, reducing boredom, reducing anxiety because of its calming effects, helping children learn empathic and nurturing skills, and, improving the relationship between you and your healthcare provider.

Assistance / Therapy Dogs have built-in survival skills and this allows them to be able to pick up social cues imperative to human relationships. Counsellors can then process that information and use it to help clients see how their behaviour affects others; and this can be seen immediately. As such, the beneficial aspects also include:

  • Increased focus and attention;
  • Increased self-esteem and ability to care for oneself;
  • Improved willingness to be involved in a therapeutic program or group activity;
  • Increased trust, empathy and teamwork;
  • Potential to improve self-control;
  • Ability to enhance ones problem-solving skills;
  • Potential to improve social skills;
  • Potential to improve interaction with others;
  • Provides another motivational avenue to exercise;
  • Builds on the pre-existing human-animal bond.

Other ways Dr. Geller can help: 

Medical procedures: people may have less anxiety if an Assistance / Therapy Dog is present. For example; children having physical or dental procedures. 

Rehabilitation: people may be more motivated to recover when working with an Assistance / Therapy Dog. 

Communication: people who have sensory disabilities can sometimes communicate more easily with an Assistance / Therapy Dog. This encourages more interaction with healthcare providers.

“They accept you for the way you are flaws and all. They are so forgiving and they are always happy to see you. Their behaviour is just so consistent and so consistently happy that I think it’s just comforting to people knowing that there is a being there that you can always count to be happy to see you and not judge you for anything you’ve done.”[1]

Ethical Considerations

Dr. Geller is the Director of Canine Essentials. Canine Essentials has robust policies related to the ethical treatment of canines in their care and these policies can be found on their website:

Of importance is “Zoonoses” that are infections that can be passed from dogs to humans. Canine Essentials Work Health and Safety policy is as follows: Operators should assume that all dogs are capable of carrying germs potentially harmful to humans and should take appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of disease, including:

Dog wellbeing

  • Provide only healthy dogs for public display or contact:
    • establish a close association with a veterinarian to ensure dogs are clinically healthy;
    • maintain a comprehensive parasite control program with the veterinarian;
    • exclude dogs which are unwell, for example with skin sores and diarrhoea;
    • vaccinate or screen dogs when appropriate (as per veterinary advice);
  • Maintain dogs in an environment appropriate to maintaining their health, welfare and biosecurity.
  • Do not use dogs with unsuitable temperaments as contact dogs.
  • Alleviate any stress, over handling and overcrowding of dogs to reduce possibility of disease.
  • The operator must take appropriate measures to manage any associated risk where contact between dogs and visitors are promoted, or where visitors are allowed unsupervised access to dogs. For example, in order to minimise the risk of visitors or staff being bitten, scratched or otherwise injured by the dogs, exhibitors should:
    • monitor dog behaviour during the exhibit;
    • remove any dogs that exhibit signs of irritability or aggression;
    • not exhibit dogs that may have increased potential for aggressive behaviour associated with mating/breeding.
  • Provide adequate barriers and signage to prevent visitors from touching dogs that are not available for touching or that should not be touched.

More recently, Flea-borne spotted fever (FBSF) has recently emerged in Australia. In humans, signs of FBSF are non-specific and range from flu-like illness to severe multi-systemic disease. All of Canine Essentials’ dogs are rigorously inspected for fleas and are treated with a monthly flea and tick preventative medication.

Canine Essentials Dog Assisted Interventions Teams

Specifically trained Assistance / Therapy Dog’s (Bull Mastiff “Coco Chanel” and Swiss Shepherd “Dior”) are exceptionally well behaved dogs, with extensive training and experience. These dog’s work 5 to 6 days a week and are owned by Canine Essentials Pty. Ltd, working as part of the Canine Essentials Pty. Ltd. professional health care team. They work individually, however they also work in a pack and assist in the training of Assistance Dogs in Training (ADiT). In particular they:

  • have had vigorous training;
  • have trained to work in various stressful environments;
  • have extensive experience working with clients living with acute illness, living with various degrees of disability, ageing population and mental health;
  • have extensive experience working with individual clients or large groups;
  • have extensive experience working as a pack.



Sellars Insurance Agency Pty. Ltd. T/As Nursewise

ABN: 37 006 358 863

Georgia Geller: Self Employed Registered Nurse Division 1

Professional Indemnity:

$20 Million each and every claim, ($60 Million in the Aggregate).

Public Liability:

$20 Million.

Jurisdictional Limits:

Australia and New Zealand

Features of the Policy: 

Unlimited Retroactive Date – Unlimited Run Off Cover (subject to Master policy remaining in force).

Policy provides cover for any negligent act, error or omission arising from procedures/treatment administered at the scene of an emergency “Good Samaritan”. Professional negligence, libel, slander or defamation, loss or damage to documents and conduct which is misleading or deceptive etc. contrary to sections 52 or 53 of the Trade Practices Act (Cth) or it’s State equivalent.

Special Conditions:

Instrument Use Endorsement – HIV  Exclusion – Molestation Exclusion clause – Botox, Fillers & Laser Treatments.

Specific Cover Limits:  Sum Insured $500,000

Purpose – Legal Expenses for Disciplinary proceedings or Enquires.


Animal Assisted Therapy


Marsh Advantage Insurance Pty. Ltd.

ABN: 31 081 358 303 

Canine Essentials Pty. Ltd. and Dr. Georgia Geller: Canine Behaviourist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer

Business Activities:

  • Pet Training
  • Expos & Demonstrations
  • Group Classes / Clinics
  • Sport & Obedience Training (including Agility, Rally O, Fly Ball & Track)
  • Behavioural Modification & Assessment
  • In Home Training & Private Consultants (Including Companion Animals)
  • Nursing Home visits & School visits
  • Seminars & Lectures
  • Pet Transportation
  • Pet Groomers / Mobile Grooming Services
  • Distribution / Sale of Products
  • Assistance Dog Training and Accreditation
  • Therapy Dog Training
  • Greyhound / Pound Dog Assessments

Limits of Liability

  • Public Liability $ 10,000,000
  • Contingent Care, Custody & Control Extension $ 50,000 per animal
  • Pollution Liability $ 10,000,000
  • Products Liability $ 10,000,000
  • Professional Indemnity $ 2,000,000

Endorsements: Pet Transportation

Attaching to and forming part of Commercial General Liability Form.
Notwithstanding Exclusion 17 it is hereby understood and agreed that this Policy is extended to cover Damage to animals arising directly or indirectly out of the ownership, possession or use of any motor vehicle or trailer by or on behalf of the Insured for the purposes of animal transportation.
All other terms, conditions, limitations and exclusions remain unaltered.

Endorsements: Care Custody and Control Extension (Pet Liability)

Attaching to and forming part of Commercial General Liability Form.
This policy extends to cover the Insured’s liability for any Damage to any pet in the Insured’s care, custody and control for an amount not exceeding $50,000 per animal and $250,000 in the annual aggregate.
Provided always that: This Policy shall not apply to any property covered by any other policy in force covering the Insured or any other entity having an interest in the damaged pet AND This Policy shall not apply to Damage to horses. For the purposes of this extension, Damage is defined as injured, lost, fallen ill or death.

Endorsements: Dangerous Breeds Exclusion

Attaching to and forming part of Commercial General Liability Form.
This policy excludes any liability, claims, costs or expenses arising directly or indirectly, out of or caused by, through or in connection with dangerous dogs. For the purposes of this endorsement, dangerous dogs shall include, but not be limited to, the following breeds:

  • Pit bull terrier
  • Japanese tosa
  • Dogo argentino
  • Fila brasileiro

And any dog which is classified as being dangerous by the relevant state legislation.
All other terms, conditions, definitions, limitations, exclusions and provisions remain unaltered.

Canine Essentials will therefore not train any dog that is of the above breeds and/or has been declared a dangerous dog by the relevant state legislation. 

Assistance Dogs Trained By Canine Essentials: Liability of Damage

According to the leaders in Assistance Dog Standards, Assistance Dogs International (2016b) has designed a “Model Law” that they encourage federal and state bodies to adopt. In this, they consider what should happen if the Assistance Dog should cause damage:

  • The owner of an assistance dog is solely liable for any damage to persons, premises, or facilities including places of public accommodation, public conveyances or transportation services, common carrier of passengers, places of housing accommodations, and places of employment caused by that assistance dog.
  • An “Individual with a disability”, including but not limited to, the blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or otherwise disabled who uses an assistance dog shall keep the dog properly harnessessed or Leashed, and a person who is injured by the dog because of an “Individual with a disability”, including but not limited to, the blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or otherwise disabled failure to properly harnessess or leash the dog is entitled to maintain a cause of action for damages in a court of competent jurisdiction under the same laws applicable to other causes brought for the redress of injuries caused by animals.

In the case of an emergency or crisis and you are in need of immediate help, contact:

  • your nearest hospital
  • Lifeline at 13 11 14
  • or dial 000




Version Control
Related Acts, Policies and Documents

o  ICN Code of Ethics for Nurses.

o  Registered Nurse Standards for Practice.

o  Scope of Practice for Registered Nurses & Midwives.

o  A nurses guide to professional boundaries.

o  National Law: Section 39 – Mandated Reporting.

Children and Young People Act 2008 (ACT), Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW), Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 (NT), Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld), Children’s Protection Act 1993 (SA), Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 (Tas.), Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.).

o  Disability Discrimination Act (1992).

o  Equal Opportunity Act (1984).

o  Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

o  Competition and Consumer Act (2010).

o  Work Health and Safety Act (2012).

Policies (Canine Essentials Pty. Ltd.).

o  Nursing Essentially General Policies.

o  Nursing Essentially Privacy Policy.

Policy Custodian Dr. Geller
Responsible Officer Dr. Geller
Endorsed By Dr. Geller
Reviewed By Mr. Jolly
Date Version Approved By
23rd June 2017


Dr. Geller
15th July 2017


Dr. Geller
1st August 2017


Dr. Geller
18th September 2017


Dr. Geller
1st October 2017


Dr. Geller
22nd October 2017


Dr. Geller
12th November 2017


Dr. Geller
15th February 2018


Dr. Geller
1st January 2018


Dr. Geller
3rd April 2018


Dr. Geller



The Content or Therapy offered here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.