Our Healing Helpers
By Claudia Bartoli with Susan Stevenson

"Diviner than the dolphin is nothing yet created, for indeed they were aforetime men and lived in cities along with mortals. They exchanged the land for the sea and put on the form of fishes. But, even now, the righteous spirit of men in them preserves human thought and human deeds."
                            - Oppian of Silica, Greek Poet 200 A.D.

As we approach the millennia, Dolphin Assisted Therapy is coming into its own. The years to come will bring a variety of healthcare alternatives and we are fortunate to be in the pioneering stage of this era now.

Over the last two decades there has been extensive research done with dolphins and the positive effects they seem to have on people. Our dear friend, Dr. Horace Dobbs, has been one of the pioneering forces behind this field, working with dolphins and with people who are suffering with chronic depression. You may learn more about Dr. Dobbs and his work at his website International Dolphin Watch .

For many, the dolphin is a symbol of hope. The effects that the dolphins have on our emotional well-being also has a long history. The Greeks, in ancient times, placed a figure of the dolphin with the words, "Know Thyself" at the entrance to the oracle in Delphi. How then more appropriately to follow the wisdom of the ancient Greeks than by knowing ourselves through developing relationship with the dolphin.

Dolphins have a joyful, peaceful and compassionate nature, and their energy vibrations have powerful effects on people. It may be for this reason that people living with depression can be particularly responsive to the subtle energies of the dolphins.

The personal experience of many people having encountered the dolphins is that the dolphins and whales seem to evoke a deep emotional response. They seem to hone right into a person's emotional core. Some find themselves filled with joy, others break down into tears. A first encounter with the dolphins may even be physically uncomfortable, followed by tears and then a great deal of joy. Each of us experience the healing way of the dolphins in our own unique manner.

How do we, the land mammals, then enjoy the benefits while still preserving the dolphins' environment? Quite simply, we replicate the experience. So whether you are on a boat, in the still waters of the Bahamas, or in a Manhattan high-rise, the benefits can be comparable.

It is not necessary for anyone to experience a live wild dolphin encounter to benefit from it, at least not in the purest sense of the word "benefit". Obviously to swim and interact with such a creature is a heady adventure and provides the incredible "rush" that one would expect. Psychologically speaking, a person may erroneously believe that the live encounter is essential to any physical or emotional benefit, but this is simply not true. This would bring us to the next logical progression in your questioning: Therefore why the dolphin? The answer is quite simple. The dolphins and whales are our models. They are the entities whose social behavior is most exactly the goals we strive for.

By incorporating many disciplines into our specific dolphin therapies, we "round out" the approach. Thus, we are not limiting ourselves, and our horizon is grand. Think of this approach somewhat like school with liberal arts, the sciences, and fine arts with a few electives thrown in. The skeptical mind of the pure scientist as well as the lyrical creativity of the musical composer can all be found and enhanced by virtue of dolphin therapy.

In this "new age" as we walk confidently forward in some areas, we are stumbling in others. We can observe the almost obsessive desire to bestow God-like attributes to cetaceans which can be as cruel as harnessing them in captivity. One of our major lessons in a truly "new age" is the respect for all life.

Many organizations and programs have been formed to protect, study and participate in the dolphin/whale experience. All of these organizations w ill gladly provide you with information about their work and also welcome financial contributions. Included in this group are: The Dolphin Alliance in Florida, working with Bogey & Bacall; Cetacean Society Intl. in Cheshire, Connecticut; Earth Island Institute in San Francisco; Pacific Whale Foundation in Kihei, Maui, Hawaii; The Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Keys, Florida; Dolphin Plus in Key Largo, and The Dolphin Within Society in Melbourne, Australia.

Now, in Southern California, we have the growing family of The Virtual Dolphin, a branch of the world famous organization, "International Dolphin Watch". IDW is dedicated to dolphins, healing and interspecies communication. Offering people the opportunity to interact with the dolphins in a wide variety of ways, it also provides resources and information about cetaceans, their issues and activities throughout the world.

A unique dolphin-facilitated ther-apy program, this new approach is non-invasive and is currently seeking like-minded individuals to participate in this exciting endeavor. Opportunities exist for volunteers in many areas such as healing arts professionals, 3-D virtual environment computer professionals, legal advisors, artists and musicians. Equipment donations are also needed.

One of many goals is to create various Dolphin and Whale Interactive Programs that will give children not only a stimulating educational experience, but one that will also facilitate healing. By creating an atmosphere that is nurturing and supportive for children who might be dealing with terminal illness, abuse issues, or are physically challenged, and incorporating various educational mediums, a Virtual Reality experience will accommodate those children who are not able to experience the cetaceans in their natural environment.

In conjunction with this project, application to the Internship Program is available to those university students who are versed in photography, animation, illustration, writing, design, music, 3-D modeling and software engineering to assist in creating innovative and interactive programs for children.

Children also have the opportunity to take an active part in creating the program, working side by side, creating an atmosphere of love, understanding and respect. If you think you might like to be involved with this program, see the contact information which follows.

The Virtual Dolphin Project, in its entirety, will always be a work in progress dedicated to the children who are life's greatest work in progress.

For a listing of books, CD's, video tapes and other dolphin/whale- related information, see the website . For more information on The Virtual Dolphin, or to contact other organizations mentioned in this article, you may contact Claudia Bartoli at (714) 448-9718 or by E mail: .

Claudia Bartoli has conducted dolphin swims in the Bahamas and Hawaii, and works as a professional clairvoyant with various law enforcement agencies as well as her own personal clientele. You are also invited to visit the website for Dr. Horace Dobbs, respected dolphin researcher and founder of International Dolphin Watch.

Susan Stevenson, DCH(c) is a Doctor of Clinical Hypnotherapy, NLP Master Practitioner and Certified Spiritual Counselor. Currently residing in Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Susan offers uplifting programs for individuals, groups and businesses, as well as workshops and audio tapes on a variety of life enhancing topics.  For information on any programs, you may contact Dr. Susan by e-mail at: 

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