Dolphins symbolise freedom, fun and living life to the full. They also have a certain aura about them as a unique and human-friendly species, with heart-warming stories of people being saved from sharks or drowning and being gently towed to shore. Many people will have grown up with Flipper, the friendly dolphin in the TV series, who like all dolphins appears to wear a permanent smile. Who won’t have yearned to forge a similar inter-species connection? This connection is not just recent; from as far back as ancient Greece dolphins have been revered and a temple at Delphi was dedicated to a dolphin. What is it about them that creates this fascination?
Dolphin Healing is relatively new on the alternative healing scene. Dr Horace Dobbs-http://www.horacedobbs.com, had been swimming with lone dolphins and writing about them for many years when he noticed the profoundly uplifting effect one had on a couple of severely depressed individuals. This led him to take more active notice and film a TV documentary called ‘The Dolphins Touch’, which followed the story of Jemima Biggs and her experience with Funghie the Dolphin in Dingle, Ireland. The story is a touching one, and even though the experience didn’t cure her eating disorders, it transformed her life to such an extent she was able to blossom emotionally and soon after married and had a child. For Dr Dobbs this has become a vocation and he founded Operation Sunflower in the late ‘80s. -http://www.idw.org/html/dolphin_healing_part_2.html#Op
Horace is keen to keep the Dolphin Healing experience ethical and, therefore, not at the expense of the dolphins, so found a way to encapsulate the essence of the dolphin on an audio tape and CD. This is a guided meditation married with dolphin and whale sounds called Dolphin Dreamtime -http://www.idw.org/html/dolphin_shop.html. Initial reports from statistical analysis done at Swansea University in 1994 showed that over 70% of those who listened to the meditation received benefit. It is now being used in a variety of settings and environments.
Dolphin Assisted Therapy (DAT) first came about in the late 1980’s. Dr David Nathanson-http://www.specialchild.com/archives/ia-023.html, a psychologist who worked with children with special needs, began using a swim with dolphins as a reward for gaining their attention. He discovered that children with attention deficit could learn up to four times faster with this reward system. In 1988 he founded The Dolphin Research Centre in Grassy Key, Florida, and received great publicity through his successes – working with children with a range of challenges from Downs Syndrome to Cerebral Palsy. This led to other Centres being established where wild dolphins were brought into an enclosed environment.
How does it work?
Dolphins are extremely intelligent mammals with a brain which is not only complex but also well developed in the area of higher cognitive functioning. They have a powerful sonar system which helps them navigate and has enough sensitivity to distinguish between two different size coins in sand. Apparently it is possible for them to ‘see’ inside a pregnant woman by using their sonar and that when swimming with someone who has a physical challenge such as a tumour, they can ‘see’ this too and appear to home in on it with their sonar. There is no concrete evidence that any healing occurrs apart from the endorphin rush which may accelerate the individuals own healing response. However there may be some validity in the concept that this is a form of sound healing or ultrasound – and as water is a better carrier of sound than air, perhaps swimming with dolphins creates an optimum healing environment.