Hello, I'm Vicki Childs, a registered Counsellor and Clinical Supervisor with the ACA - Australian Counselling Association. I also happen to be a crazy animal lover and passionate advocate for animal welfare.
I presently have two beautiful rescue Staffies, Freya and Rainey, who are living the life of Riley, and a gorgeous old sponsor elephant in Thailand, named Mr Moo, who was rescued from a life of absolute horror.
I've been counselling for 10 years in the public and private sectors. I have a special interest in pet loss counselling and I am well equipped to help you on your journey through the immense grief of losing your pet and often your best friend.
As a long term pet owner (some 50+ years) and having rescued many dogs over my lifetime, I understand at a deep level as not only a pet lover, but as a highly experienced therapist how overwhelming the sense of loss can be.
Often it's about having someone hold space for you while you work your way through the myriad of emotions that present after the passing of a beloved pet.
Sadly, for many pet owner's their grief is steeped in what we call 'disenfranchised' grief, which can be difficult for others to comprehend.
There is no right or wrong way to express grief. There is also no timeline to follow, other than your own.
My own pets accompany us everywhere, even on our vacations, so I understand that your pet is so much more than just a dog, just a cat or just a rat.
You can find out more about my love of pets on our popular dog accounts on Instagram @piedprincesses and @elderbulls. You will note a long and ongoing love of dogs in particular. Having said that I am here to help you process your grief for all types of creatures, big and small.
I'll meet you where you are on your emotional journey through grief with empathy, compassion and professional knowledge to find peace through heartbreak.
Conventionally bonded animal lovers consider their pets as members of their families, but they don’t give their pets the same status they do to their human family members. These folks make up the largest group of pet guardians. They provide loving homes and are responsible about caring for their pets, but losing a pet is not a source of major trauma. Although they experience grief over the loss of a pet, people in this category tend to recover more quickly than intensely or uniquely bonded people.
Pet guardians who are intensely bonded regard their pets as integral family members. They form deep, emotional attachments to their pets and provide them with the same level of care they would for any other family member. Intensely bonded pet guardians may sometimes exceed their financial means to provide care for their pets. They even may think of their companion animal as their “surrogate child.” Intensely bonded pet owners often experience a long grieving process and a much greater sense of personal loss following the loss of their pet than conventionally bonded pet owners.
People with the deepest attachment to their companion animals, those who are uniquely bonded, provide extravagant care and attention to their pets. Often, they prefer the company of their pets to that of other humans, and they may even refer to their pet by such terms as “my closest friend,” “my soul mate,” “my son,” or “my daughter.” The loss of their close companion often is devastating, and their grieving may last for a very long time.
The 10 Commandments of Pet Loss
1. You have the right to grieve the loss of your pet.
2. You have the right to talk about your grief.
3. You have the right to feel a variety of emotions.
4. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
5. You have the right to experience “griefbursts.”
6. You have the right to make use of ritual.
7. You have the right to embrace your spirituality.
8. You have the right to search for meaning.
9. You have the right to treasure your memories.
10. You have the right to move toward your grief and heal.
Counselling Rebates are available through:
Police Health Fund
Emergency Services Health
Doctors Health Fund
Saint Lukes Medical
Teachers Union Health Fund
*With the appropriate level of extras cover.
*Please check with your fund for eligibility.