At the age of 11, Angela Atkins suffered a traumatic dog bite to her face, which left her with emotional scars. Atkins has published a children's book to help others overcome their fears.
Nov. 14, 2012
At the age of 11, Angela Atkins suffered a traumatic dog bite to her face, which left her with emotional scars.
Now, Atkins, an adjunct professor of psychology at Flagler College and licensed mental health counselor, has published her first children’s book, “I Don’t Like Dogs, But They Love Me,” which features a series of stories aimed at helping children overcome their fear of dogs.
“I went to hug my aunt good-bye, and her dog got protective,” Atkins explained. “It didn’t mean the dog was bad, but my experience was, and I had trouble approaching dogs after that.”
After counseling a group of teenagers a few years ago at Baptist Medical Center using narrative therapy, she decided to turn her experiences into a book, focusing on the positive interactions she’s had with dogs.
“[Writing the book] was kind of cathartic in a way,” Atkins said. “Sometimes people hold onto a traumatic event and forget what happens after. But through my story, I was able to transform it into something positive, by letting go of the past.”
While most of the stories are embellished, Atkins relates her experiences in a way that will serve as a lesson for children.
She hopes her book will help children turn negative experiences into positive ones.
“I wrote the book to change the way I think about that traumatic experience I had, but it also wound up helping a lot of children,” she said.
The book follows Gracie, a character based on Atkin’s daughter, as she interacts with dogs of every kind—some funny and playful, others loving and gentle. One of the dog characters in the book, Bingo, is a real-life therapy dog at Baptist Medical Center, who sometimes accompanies Atkins to her book signings.
Atkins now appreciates dogs in a new way. “Before the book, I was still afraid of dogs,” she said. “But now, I know that if I develop relationships with them, I can experience something really rewarding.”
For more information on Atkins’ book, visit facebook.com/angela533.