What Is Pet Therapy?
Pet therapy may include several kinds of therapies involving animals, from animal-assisted therapy to animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy tends to use dogs or other animals to help people recover from health problems or to cope with mental stresses. Animal-assisted activities allow individuals to interact with animals. These animals may provide comfort during the activity or be used to provide interaction.
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Animal-assisted therapies work in several ways. For instance, if you attend your drug addiction program and are asked if you want to be part of the program, you can say yes and learn more. If everything is agreeable to you, you’ll seen have an assistance animal, whether it’s a horse, dog, cat, or other animal, come to you. In some cases, the animal stays for longer, but most visits are between 10 to 15 minutes. You can interact with the animal and talk to the handler. Typically, this improves a person’s mood, which is helpful to the healing process.
Another kind of animal-assisted therapy involves you taking on a pet. You may receive a dog that is well trained to assist you if you have post-traumatic stress or bipolar disorder, for instance. The animal may be trained to fetch medications, to comfort you during an episode, or to be on alert for your safety. The training the dog or other animal receives will likely be based on your needs as an individual.
How Can Pets Help You During Recovery?
Pets can help in several ways. There are a few main benefits. They can:
- Reduce anxiety. Having a pet is scientifically proven to lower stress levels overall.
- Reduce loneliness. Having a pet, even when other companions are scarce, can help you feel connected to another living creature. For those who struggle with social situations, a dog or other pet can help you interact with others by giving you something to talk about.
- Reduce pain. Reducing anxiety and stress, fear, or panic when in pain can help reduce pain overall. Taking a person’s mind off cravings, pain, or other feelings can also help them better balance their bodies and minds.
- Help encourage independence. Sometimes, people with severe anxiety or depression struggle to live independently. Having a pet can encourage them to leave their homes, to interact with others, and to focus on caring for another living creature.
Who Benefits from Animal-Assisted Therapy?
Many people benefit from AAT. Some that can benefit include:
- Children or teens under high levels of stress or anxiety
- People going through substance abuse withdrawals or detoxification
- Those facing long-term recovery
- People who are hospitalized
- Those with mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression
In any case, animals can be taught to encourage rehabilitative behaviors in patients. They encourage kindness, being gentle, and interacting with others. They make it easier for people to release anxieties and open up to others. They can also encourage activities like walking or playing, which some people may forget to or not want to do otherwise.
The additional benefit of pet therapy is that it doesn’t have to take place in a medical setting. A person can get a pet from any shelter or from a breeder; emotional support animals don’t require training to be of assistance, while certain kinds of dogs, like trained therapy dogs, will come from specialized facilities.
Is Pet Therapy the Same As Animal-Assisted Activities?
Animal-assisted activities are not the same as animal-assisted therapy. Both can have benefits, but there are differences. For example, animal-assisted therapy and pet therapy may result in the individual owning the pet and service animal. With animal-assisted activities, animals may simply be present during the activity.
Animal-assisted activities can help those in substance abuse counseling open up to others; one study showed that 56 percent of participating individuals seemed to interact more easily and to talk more openly about their backgrounds when they had a dog present. Another thing animal-assisted activities can help with is allowing therapists to see how patients interact. If an animal isn’t interacting with that patient and the patient is withdrawn, it can show social boundaries and insecurities, which is then something the therapist can work on with the patient.
Pet therapy is different because the pet is used as a source of stress relief and as a bonding companion.
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How Can I Get Started With Pet Therapy?
If you are ready to work with a pet to help you balance your mood or work through cravings, we can help. You can visit us online at https://findaddictionrehabs.com/ to learn more about the animal-assisted therapies and programs near you. You can also call our helpful specialists today to learn more about the programs that you can be involved with dial 1-877-959-7271 now to speak with one of our specialists at any time.