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Does Pet Therapy Really Work?

An Insight into the Evolving Field of Alternative Therapeutic Approach

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Anatole France once famously said,

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

France was a man of much wisdom and many admirable character traits. His intellectual insight can perhaps be better assessed by the above quotation, which deeply reflects upon the linkage of an individual with another being, not necessarily even human. Over time, various legit studies have proven that having a personal connection with animals helps the mind stabilize itself and expand mentally and emotionally.  

Connecting animals in numerous forms of psychological therapy, comprising of programs such as substance abuse management, can be useful for various explanations. For those blessed with a deep sense of affinity towards non-human living beings, pets can make a problematic experience stress-free.

Such a scenario may even work for those who have unfortunately been through severe trauma or cannot articulate emotions. Working with animals towards a set objective can give a profound source of self-assurance and discretion.

Discovering the various categories of animal-assisted therapy in Colorado, Los Angeles, and other areas often opens innovative ways of assisting people in dealing with mental and psychological health disorders. This can then lead to more constructive outcomes and a longer-term reclamation.

Evolution of Pet Therapy

As per the published journal ‘Annals of Long-Term Care,’ the healing prospective of the association between humans and animals was first documented and further discovered in the 1800s by Florence Nightingale. It was observed that domesticated animals vastly reduced anxiety in patients and children with mental health disorders.

In the early 1930s, Freud, amongst all the glory of his controversial work, was notorious for bringing his dog to therapy sessions. Nonetheless, it wasn’t really until the latter half of the 20th century that therapists began to explore the working of the human mind. Studies were conducted to observe and study the human-animal relationship that could be further utilized to benefit the entire therapy process.

Ultimate, in the late 1980s, the primary programs to endorse animals for human therapy ascended. Today, animals can be seen in therapeutic series in various situations, be it hospitals, clinics, etc.

Types of Assistance:

As described by the National Association of Social Workers, there are essentially two ways that pets or animals can be utilized in therapy for individuals.

  • Pet therapy

This is the scenario in which volunteers take their tender, well-taught pets to diverse settings, such as schools or hospitals, to create a lively environment for people with difficulty after complex surgery, difficult treatments, etc. This kind of therapy is easy, as it revolves around the calm joy of being around or stroking a happy animal. However, it should not be underestimated by any means. Dismissing stress can assist the body in producing neurotransmitters and hormones that provide relief in physical and emotional solidity and well-being.

  • Animal-assisted therapy

This scenario, on the other hand, encompasses counselors, social workers, or even other therapists who explicitly involve the animal in behavioral therapies. This kind of effort can be completed with an extensive variety of animals. However, two of the most regularly used therapies through animals involve horses (i.e., equine-assisted therapy dogs) and (i.e., canine-assisted therapy).

Exclusive Benefits:

Two of the most public animals involved in animal-assisted or pet therapy are horses and dogs. Mentioned below are just a few of the exclusive benefits they assist with:

Canine-assisted therapy

Dogs are extensively utilized in both animal-assisted and therapy pet therapy. Mentioned below are some of the assistances of involving dogs:

  • Increased sensitivity in problem-solving and communication assistances by giving the dog instructions
  • Learning how to relate to other individuals and their experiences
  • Development in anxiety or depression
  • Increased level of attention and focus
  • Additional positive motivation and attitude

Equine-assisted therapy

Learning to work with horses within therapeutic practices can assist with:

  • Understanding of interpersonal associations by observing how the individual responds to the animal
  • Prompt, authentic response from the horse that aids individuals temperate their behaviors
  • Represents models for stable yet healthy relationships with other humans
  • Development of belief and aptitude to observe nonverbal signals from others

When in search of treatment for mental, psychological, or even physiological health disorders, it can be pertinent to ask whether or not particular facilities have offer animal therapy, especially for those individuals who have distress vocalizing their concerns in front of a therapist.

Such an example could be of animal-assisted work which is inclusive of both adults and children. Moreover, in this field, the particularly skilled and highly trained staff is experienced in dealing with individuals suffering from PTSD with endurance and better instinct and emotive control.

Author Bio

Rachel Baer VanHarken is an experienced, motivated, and skilled therapist who specializes in animal-assisted therapy. Determined by the need to assistance others, She currently works at Blue Spruce Therapy in Colorado. She takes abundant honour in providing her services to her patients and seeing them excel and grow in their respective lives. Rachel now lives her days with her two pet Labrador dogs and enjoys life to the fullest!

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