From Mag. Carmen Viereckl, Diploma of Psychology
I undertook practical training from August to October 2010 in the Dolphin Therapy Center, Antalya/Türkey and with this Report would like to inform future interested parties of my experiences and impressions.
The Therapy Center engages a multi cultural team comprising Therapists, Dolphin trainers, Trainees and diverse personnel who are mainly responsible for tourism. A good knowledge of the English language is therefore most important to be able to work there and to socialize.
Allocation of Duties
The tasks set for a trainee with Onmega cover various areas. There are organizational tasks to complete, mostly in connection with therapy families. Receptions are to be prepared for new arrivals and to greet the families in the Hotels. Trainees also participate in the meetings. Sometimes the meetings are held in English and often the families require an interpreter. There are various visits to the Hotels necessary to determine whether the family has everything they require and whether they are satisfied with everything. (Quite often the families require special beds or cooking utensils for their children). There are also new files to be made out and the existing files to be kept up to date. Also the co-ordination of appointments for alternative therapies (Hippo therapy, Physiotherapy, Cranio-Sacral-Therapy) is mainly made by the trainees.
The therapy children are mostly divided up between the trainees so that every child has his own trainee who accompanies him through the whole course. The platforms are to be made ready before therapies. All utensils required by the therapist should be present and to hand. During the therapy the trainee can assist e.g. support children that cannot sit up straight, support children so that the therapist can work unemcumbered, apply buoancy aids, hand out utensils,…..apart from that the trainee has the function of an observer. Depending on her qualifications the trainee can be more active in the therapy, this being left up to the judgement of the therapist.
It is also important for the trainee to be the contact person for the family. The trainee is the first person the family will turn to if they have a problem. Trainees also function as baby sitters, should the parents want to go out of an evening. This special service is paid for directly by the family. At these personal meetings in the Hotels, often at dinner, but also between therapy sessions, when the parents have more time and stay longer on the platform, one often chats with the family. Conversations of this nature can often be very personal and emotional and offer intimate insights into the family life of the person concerned. In such a situation empathy and pschological proficiency is required to give the parents additional support!
A trainee also gets an insight into the job of a dolphin trainer. It is also part of the trainees tasks to help out with the tourist programme, should help be required. This means mainly helping the tourists with the donning of the swim vests and the co-ordination of single programmes. Those who can handle a camera may also assume the role of photographist. One may also choose to help out in the fish kitchen preparing the feed for the dolphins. As the job is as a trainee there are also typical tasks such as cleaning, dishwashing, warehouse duties or making coffee.
Many people think of the job as a dolphin therapist as a dream job. One works in holiday areas, one is in the fresh air and naturally one has contact with these extraordinary animals that hold such a fascination for people. In my traineeship I learnt the other side of the coin. ’Dolphin therapist’ is an animation job. This means one has to be cheerful all the time, even when one is not in good spirits, always have fun with the children, attend to the parents no matter how harried one is, to listen to them. In short: do somersaults all the time to please everyone. And naturally smile! Discipline, reliability and the ability to cope under pressure are what one has to have. It is true that one finds oneself in a holiday resort but one notices this only on the fringes because ‚Dolphin Therapy’ implies working set hours with few days off and is a job like any other. And Winter arrives here also in the holiday resort as we have noticed the past few weeks. That puts an end to sunshine. Rain and storms visit the platform. The therapies are not cancelled and this means 6 times a day on the platform at/in the water and between times one doesn’t really have time to get warm or dry. Then the dream job becomes a strenuous one and I say this as a trainee who usually sits on the edge of the platform wrapped in a towel only getting a splash or two
One must take these aspects into account, have actually endured them, before one starts a career in dolphin therapy. Although I began my traineeship with the wrong ideas which entailed a lot of frustration at the beginning I can say now, having finished my work at Onmega, that overall I can rate my experiences there as very positive! I learnt very much about handling children, disabled or not: how to approach them, how to speak to them, to touch and support them, to treat them as they really are, namely independent persons who despite their retarded development, or similar, have intelligent personalities and who often understand a lot more than one would think.
In the last three months I have learnt a lot, and a lot about myself. I have met many kind and interesting people, many of whom I would now call my friends, and have had many wonderful experiences.
One should not think that after a traineeship one is a dolphin therapist! To make a real career in this area is difficult, in my opinion, as Institutions that offer dolphin therapy have their own staff and do not often have posts free (especially for complete strangers). I would not recommend a traineeship to motivate oneself to become a dolphin therapist. However should one want an intensive insight into work with disabled children and experience the work with these wonderful animals then by all means take the next step.
In hardly any other company can one meet in such a short time so many different families with children who have such widely different disabilities.
I would not like to make recommendations fo ror against practical training as this is completely up to the individual concerned, her private and occupational situation. Speaking for myself, I can say that I do not regret a single second of the last 3 months and as soon as I have time I would without hesitation travel there again
Please feel free to ask questions or make comments about a traineeship at Onmega. My contact addess is:
At this point I would like to thank again the whole Onmega team and naturally Mr Axel Linke for the wonderful time. I hope we shall stay in contact!
Very best wishes
For questions concerning dolphin therapy you may contact this family by e-mail at