More about Therapy Dogs & Pet Assisted Therapy…..
If you’re an animal lover…you already know how good it feels to interact with your pet. Now research is showing the same positive effect in a variety of therapeutic settings – nursing homes, schools, hospitals, mental health and treatment programs. Leveraging the power of pets is becoming a vital tool in the treatment of many medical and psychiatric disorders.
Pet Therapy is defined as a guided interaction between a specially trained animal and an individual or group – facilitated by animal’s handler. Also known as Animal Assisted Therapy, Pet Therapy interactions are intended to improve a clients’ mental, social, emotional and physical functioning. Therapy can involve different activities such as walking, grooming or petting, playing with or looking after the therapy animal. Just like any other therapy, the specifics of a pet therapy session are based on the uniques and individual needs of each client.
Trained animals, in our case, Simon our therapy dog, is used to benefit clients whose life experiences include many emotional and behavioral concerns such as substance use, addiction, anxiety, depression, communication difficulties and post traumatic stress – just to name a few. Animals accept us just as we are – they don’t judge or threaten – so you can interact with them in a wholehearted and mindful manner. Counseling and therapy can be a difficult and scary process however, with the assistance of an animal you can feel more safe and comfortable to open up and build trust with your therapist. Some of the frequently reported benefits of pet therapy are…
- the release of endorphines (feel-good neurotransmitters)
- reduction in stress and anxiety
- a boost in self esteem
- improved mood
- improved focus and concentration
- better communication
- improvement with mindful skills and stay within the moment
Of course all of the above benefits plus many others provide for a more enriching therapy experience. If you are interested in having me be involved with your therapy experience at ERWC…please talk with your therapist.