TAMWORTH'S youngsters will be safe and hound at headspace with its furriest therapist teaching the counsellors some new tricks.
The new therapist is hard to miss. It's not just his big brown eyes and tight curls.
He's less than a metre tall, less than a year old and might spend some time laying on the floor during sessions.
He doesn't say much, but he is quite effective getting people to open up.
The city's new Tamaruke therapy dog, Pavlov, has been making himself right at home in the headspace building since arriving this week.
Counselling canines have been becoming more prevalent on the psychology scene in recent years.
And after seeing the successes of a therapy dog employed at Maitland's headspace, the Tamworth office was eager to give it a try.
Provisional psychologist Bronte Pennefather will be Pavlov's handler in Tamworth.
She said dogs were an effective sidekick in therapy.
"They reduce a lot of symptoms of anxiety and that will help us build rapport with clients and make clients feel more comfortable about coming in to headspace," she said.
It's an around-the-clock gig for Ms Pennefather which is the culmination of a significant amount of training.
"I'll be the handler full-time so that means he comes home with me and I look after him and I'm really excited about that," she said.
It has been an extensive process for Pavlov as well, who has been in training for most of his short life just for this role.
Centre manager James Reilly said a therapy dog can get people to open up in ways which a human counsellor mightn't be able.
He said it could prove effective with outcomes for the region's youngsters.
"We see how young people relax and be at ease very quickly and that is something we as counsellors can't achieve whereas a dog can break through those kinds of barriers," Mr Reilly said.
"It means counselling can be done a lot faster and we can get better results.
"Especially when people are coming in for the first time and they might be feeling anxious, so the dog can help them feel more relaxed and feel at ease."
A homespun fundraiser helped the Tamworth headspace facility secure the services of Pavlov. Tamworth Rugby Club raised $10,000 for the organisation who used the money to buy and train the therapy dog.