An Interview with Charissa B on Dolphin Assisted Therapy

Charissa Bloomberg, not just your average psychologist on the couch! Charissa chats about Dolphin Assisted Therapy, how she found her passion with dolphins and more.

Bronwyn: Charissa tell us a bit about your background?

Basically in a nutshell, I was a drama teacher then I went on to go and study Psychodrama and that involves using Role Play as a form of therapy and then became a Psychologists and got very much into Dolphin Assisted Therapy and that´s what I am doing here, hopefully some research around dolphins and the effects they have on humans.

Bronwyn: What effect does it have on people?

If you actually measure humans before they swim with dolphins and then after they swim with dolphins – there is a dramatic change.

Bronwyn: What are your workshops about here in Ponta?

 My workshops are about raising consciousness and DAT (Dolphin assisted Therapy), we take clients who have problems and issues and see if there is any effect after swimming with the dolphins (how they have been healed). We follow them afte a month, 2 months, 3 months and a 6 month long term follow up.

Bronwyn: Tell us about your thesis and the long term effects of Dolphin Assisted Therapy?

We are hoping to do a PHD around that area and hoping to look at blood results if we can actually get that going, it would be amazing because blood results show that if you swim with dolphins before and you measure your blood results after – it changes dramatically. The hormones, cells and the endorphins – everything actually seems to change immediately after swimming with them. The left and right brian becomes more synchronised as well.

Bronwyn: Are there studies that look at the long term effects (longer than three months)?

There is no study that I know of personally that looks at the long term effects of Dolphin assisted therapy – it may be a month or 2 months follow up but how long is that effect sustained – we are not clear on that and that´s what I hope our research will look at.

Bronwyn: Why do you have such a passion for dolphins?

I had a near drowning experience out here in Ponto, just a little bit off that coastline – I had a horrific experience and a school of dolphins came to my rescue. I was out in the middle of the ocean – the boat was miles away and I was surrounded by dolphins all hanging vertically around me and kept me safe until the boat came. It was about 40 minutes in the water with them. That was life changing, it was a mind blowing experience. I was looked down and saw these faces looking up at me – concerned, protecting me, it was the beginning of my entire passion of working with them.

Bronwyn: What is it about dolphins that they have such a universal appeal?

Indeed there is a universal appeal. Where ever people are anywhere in the world, they go crazy about dolphins whether its that smiling face, whether there is something on a subconscious level they actually realise the dolphins are here to teach us something – we don´t know, but it definitely has mass appeal and we need to try and discover why.

Bronwyn: Are there any spiritual beliefs that you believe about dolphins?

As a Psychologist I need to be very careful in terms of what I say about my spiritual beliefs as they are all going to say there is that cookoo psychologist who says they are here to heal… (laughs) – so I may reserve that opinion until later wen we have proved our test and studies.

Bronwyn: Why are dolphins spiritual beings in your eyes?

Because their understanding about humans is far deeper than we can ever absolutely imagine, they can sense when people are sick, they really understand peoples emotions and its absolutely amazing that they see us like an X ray machine so they know when there is tumours or when the person is pregnant. It is just amazing the way that dolphins interact with us humans. There is something on a deeper level, something we cannot even comprehend.


Charissa has recently started her PHD on Dolphin -Assisted Therapy in Mozambique. She has had own radio show about relationships and consults for two SABC TV shows as their resident psychologist and has been on various TV talk shows. She has been on Espresso SABC 3.Charissa has also shared her life story on a SABC 3 program “Power Within” to inspire other woman.