Special children were brought together with trained dogs at the Support Center for Disabled Children and their Families (EÇADEM), a joint project of Sarıyer Municipality and Koç University. In the training implemented by IMM Dog Trainer and Head of Tanısan Seversin Association, Gökçen Yücekaya, accompanied by psychologists and occupational therapists, the children were given instruction in being part of a team, respecting each other’s order, and being able to maintain balance.

In the Support Center for Disabled Children and their Families (EÇADEM), special children come together with trained dogs to gain both physical and psychological benefits. It has been observed that with a few months of participation in an animal-assisted therapy program, children are more self-confident and active than before.


Gökçen Yücekaya, who gives an animal-assisted therapy program at EÇADEM, conducts group therapy with children in the company of an occupational therapist and psychologist who support her in this training. The aim of these sessions is to be together as a team, to respect each other’s order, to correct posture disorders, and to maintain balance.


Ms. Yücekaya commented: “We are trying to make life more livable together. We are trying to be a team. Animals have a healing effect on everyone, and in our program we just make use of this effect in a more professional sense. We employ it in different activities such that it is work that is enjoyable and where progress and gains are plentiful. The work here is very valuable to us. We make a connection between children and the animals. I strongly believe in the healing power of animals. But at this point, I do not want families who cannot come to EÇADEM to make a mistake. Doctors recommend that special children grow up with animals, but we must make sure that the dogs are properly trained. Otherwise, the child’s interest may be lost completely. Therefore, if parents are going to have a dog, I recommend they get support from a professional and have an animal with a suitable temperament. We are also working on this issue outside of EÇADEM. Families who want to participate in such activities can contact us through the Tanısan Seversin Association.”


Institutional Occupational Therapist Nihal Yurdadönise emphasized the importance of these activities in improving the functional aspects of children. She said: “We carry out animal-supported work together with Ms. Gökçen. In this therapy, we show children the way to a secure attachment. We develop their communication skills. They see their functional aspects with dogs and strengthen their fine motor skills. In this way, we can carry out a more purposeful work. In general, the children are very happy after the sessions. I can observe that their participation in activities is more intense. The feedback from the families has been positive as they can see the effects on the children.”