Norfolk woman who can talk to the animals

A mild stroke at the age of just 24 led Niki Senior to explore the world of holistic therapies. But combining this with her incredible connection with animals proved the key to her future. She spoke to Kathryn Cross.

Please don't call it a gift,' says Niki, when we first meet. 'I think anyone can learn the skills. I don't think I was born with anything special.'

It is a modest claim and one that thousands of pet owners would probably disagree with. To them she is the ultimate Mrs Doolittle, Kitty Whisperer or even Guru, these are just a few of the titles she has been affectionately awarded over the years. Because Niki is a spiritual healer and while she has had many human clients over the 15 years that she has been doing the work full time, her real love is healing animals.

Travelling the country she has treated everything from treasured family pets to creatures as diverse as llamas, snakes and even marmoset monkeys, tapping into their energy fields to heal physical ailments as well as emotional or behavioural problems. But it is not always easy to convince people of the benefits of this non-invasive practice.

The NFSH Healing Trust defines healing as 'a treatment that involves the transfer of energy through the healer to the recipient. It promotes self-healing by relaxing the body, releasing tensions and strengthening the body's own immune system.'

While many more people are becoming open to the idea of spiritual healing having a place in modern medicine, there is still an army of sceptics who believe the only benefit it can have would be as a placebo. But when Niki talks about some of the remarkable results healing has had in animals, the placebo argument loses weight. Animals cannot feel better just because they want to believe that spiritual healing works and the experiences she has had should be enough to turn the most hardened sceptic into a believer.

'Sceptics are my best customers,' she says. 'Because if I can turn a sceptic then that is the best advert I can have.'

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Although Niki, who lives near Dereham, is fully qualified in human healing through eight years of training in complementary therapies, psychological counselling and Reiki, her natural affinity with animals has meant this work has become increasingly important to her.

As she talks about her childhood experiences you understand why she has chosen this path.

A young Niki was healing animals at the tender age of eight without even knowing what she was doing.

Her father, a builder in a Sheffield steel works, brought home a feral cat that he had been trying to feed and gave it to his only child to keep her company. But after just a week they had to take the cat, that she had named Timmy, to the vet as he was losing weight and had no appetite.

'The vet did some tests and it showed he had a renal tumour the size of a satsuma,' she said. 'He could not operate but he gave him an injection and put him on some tablets and said to come back in a month when we would have to make a decision about whether to have him put down.'

But Niki was not giving up that easily.

'I had never seen healing done before and never heard anyone talk about it, but I sat down with Timmy and put my hands on him. The first time I did this I felt a pulsing energy and saw a white light coming from me and entering Timmy. It was like an electric shock.'

She said her parents dismissed her claims – until they took Timmy back to the vet.

'He put Timmy up on the treatment table and spent ages prodding and poking him and said he could not feel anything. He did some more X-rays and found that the tumour had shrunk to the size of a pea. The vet could not explain it.'

Timmy went on to live another eight healthy years and passed away at the age of 16 peacefully in his sleep. Then her parents started to take Niki seriously.

'My mum's friend had been having some really bad headaches and mum suggested I put my hands on her. Immediately the headaches stopped. That was when she started to think there was something in it.'

Other animals that came to the Senior family also benefitted from Niki's healing hands. Two rescue Rottweilers called Inca and Ziggy had both suffered with a prolapse, but thanks to Niki they went on to live long and healthy lives.

She also says that pets understand human conversations and has been able to tell owners what their cats and dogs are saying, offering them a deeper understanding of the companions that share their lives. For Niki the key is ignoring the logical and scientific part of the brain and working with intuition, awareness and belief to bring about a positive change. She uses many methods from dowsing, scanning and energy sensing, often using a crystal to pinpoint energy fields.

'The ancients dipped into this energy and you can read about how pre-medieval people observed nature and planted crops on certain days. My great great grandfather lived in King's Lynn and had Celtic roots. He used to plant by moon phases and people thought he was mad, but lots of people are turning to biodynamic farming now.

'When I was 24 I suddenly had a stroke, but I refused all medication even though the doctors said I would probably have another stroke in six months. I looked at holistic methods, had reflexology and Reiki and did self-healing every day. I have never had another stroke. That was the turning point in my life.'

Niki, now 39, is so well respected in the healing world that her diary is chock full of appointments and the fact that she has convinced veterinary practices of her skills to the extent that they now refer patients to her, shows how far she has come.

She currently has a nine-week waiting list and combines her treatments with running professional certificated animal healing and animal communication courses throughout the UK as well as giving holistic therapies to humans. But the demand for animal healing means she has to refer over 80pc of her work to other healers. This has brought her to the decision to open the country's first animal healing clinic.

'I am hoping that by opening the clinic I can cut my workload down from seven days a week to five,' she said. 'It will be like a normal veterinary surgery but offering complementary therapies for animals. Clients have to have a vet referral or have seen a vet in the last three months because I like to work alongside veterinary medicine and I never diagnose a condition because I am not allowed to.' There will be a charge for an appointment, but if people genuinely cannot pay she is happy to accept goods in exchange such as home-grown vegetables or eggs or a dog-sitting session.

'I am so excited about the clinic,' she said. 'I love my job. When I had a stroke and needed healing someone was there. Now I have the chance to give that back.'

For more information about Niki visit her website, or call her on 07939 722792.

Don't miss tomorrow's Life Matters real life story about the woman who has had her breasts removed in a bid to prevent breast cancer. In the Norwich Evening News on Tuesday October 19, 2010.