Animal-assisted therapy improves patients’ mental, physical, social and emotional functioning with the aid of animals. Depending on the needs of the patient, many different animals can be used in therapy, including horses (also called equine-assisted therapy), dogs (also called canine-assisted therapy), dolphins, llamas, rabbits and other animals. Click anywhere on the image above to download your free copy of The Aspen Guide to Wilderness Therapy – a comprehensive introduction for parents of adolescents, teens, and young adults.
Animal-assisted therapy takes place in a variety of settings, including prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, therapeutic boarding schools for teens and mental health facilities. This form of treatment can take place individually or in groups, and is led by a qualified therapist or professional with specialized expertise. Much more than simply spending time with an animal, animal-assisted therapy involves specific therapeutic goals, strategies and outcomes measures.
Therapeutic experiences can include walking, brushing, petting and caring for an animal, as well as processing the experience of trying to achieve a given task. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY? There is a strong bond between animals and people. Animals are accepting, non-threatening and non-judgmental, making it easier for people to open up. Some of the benefits of animal-assisted therapy include: Improved fine motor skills Improved balance Increased focus and attention Increased self-esteem and ability to care for oneself Reduced anxiety, grief and isolation Reduced blood pressure, depression, and risk of heart attack or stroke Improved willingness to be involved in a therapeutic program or group activity Increased trust, empathy and teamwork Greater self-control Enhanced problem-solving skills Reduced need for medication Improved social skills Because many children, teens and adults enjoy working with animals, animal-assisted therapy can be particularly beneficial for individuals who are resistant to treatment or have difficulty accessing their emotions or expressing themselves in talk therapy.
WHAT CONDITIONS/DISORDERS DOES ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY TREAT? People with a variety of conditions can benefit from animal-assisted therapy, including: Autism spectrum disorders Addiction Cancer Heart disease Dementia Developmental disorders Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia Emotional and behavioral disorders Chronic painSee Also: Green Acres Animal Hospital
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From a jungle of rain-washed pines and junipers spearing the recent blueness on the Florida sky, ran a small, tawny-haired boy. His bare toes, extending from his overalled legs, crackled in opposition to the fallen palmettos. He leaped into your air, flinging his arms towards a flock of white doves circling above him.
Find out more about our Distance Learning Certificate Course in AAT/AAA Human health professionals now recognize what animal caregivers and everyday pet owners have known for years: that pets can be good for our health and well-being. Companion animals are being introduced into nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, behavioral health programs and many others. Therapeutic riding improves the motor skills and coordination of the physically challenged.
Pets help inmates in correctional facilities and juvenile offenders to learn empathy and compassion. Dogs can help reluctant readers read. Pets can help seniors maintain independent living. Therapy animals help military veterans cope with ADHD. Canine exercise programs fight obesity. In short, wherever people have special needs, someone with passion and an animal with the proper temperament can create an imaginative way to being pets and people together for mutual benefit.
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