Modern Use of Animal-Assisted Therapy Programs

It may seem surprising to you, but animal-assisted therapy is an incredibly popular practice nowadays used to increase one’s motivation and educational abilities, as well as to improve the quality of life in general. Different animals can be involved in this type of therapy; however, the most popular choice is still people’s best friends – dogs. The procedure’s primary goal is to achieve noticeable progress in the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social functions of a human being.

Today, we would like to talk more about this fantastic therapy method and all the health benefits that can be achieved by using it. We are glad to enrich your knowledge about people’s little helpers – service dogs, emotional support animals, as well as therapy animals. Stay tuned to learn more exciting things together with our team!

The Concept of Animal Assisted Therapies

Animal-assisted therapy is a practice used in various establishments to help patients during the recovery process or better deal with health problems (including heart disease, cancer, various mental health issues, and so on). Moreover, animals can provide great comfort and enjoyment to the residents in such places as nursing houses, schools, universities, prisons, hospitals, etc.

This kind of therapy can be established together with a doctor in a hospital; the procedure typically lasts for 10 to 15 minutes under the supervision of the dog handler. During the appointment, it is possible to play with a dog, pet them, talk, and participate in various other activities. In this way, a great improvement can be achieved in both the mental and physical health of an individual.

Can any animal participate in therapy programs?special animals

Animal-assisted therapy is not something that requires a license for a pet, and its main goal is to make people feel better and help deal with certain mental or physical issues, and it can be done even together with pets of our own.

However, the presence of a valid medical license is a great way to work with individuals in various establishments and have more possibilities, as well as people’s recognition. Moreover, registration of a therapy animal is a pretty simple process that can be done quickly and without any problems. For example, at My Service Animal Registrar, you can go through the pet registration (alone or together with a manager), prove your pet’s status by adding it to a unique online base, and even get special service pet accessories like an ID card with its photo, or various vests, leashes, and so on. So, we would really recommend considering this option in case you plan to work with your pet in this sphere for a long time.

Medic Uses of Animal-Assisted Therapies

It can be surprising for some of you, but a human-animal bond is used quite often to improve one’s mental or physical health. This rehabilitation method is proven to be quite effective in clinical practice, and various establishments actually use it for a noticeable boost in patients’ well-being. Below, we will talk about just a few examples of this amazing treatment method and the way animal interactions can be an actual game-changer for someone.

Cognitive rehabilitation treatment

Animal-assisted therapy demonstrated terrific results with people who survived a brain injury. Typically, doctors recommend it as an addition to the comprehensive rehabilitation treatment plan.

Pediatric centers

pediatrics animal

Animal-assisted activities with kids demonstrated great effectiveness; in particular, it has been proved that children feel more comfortable, secure, and joyful while spending time with animals. During the therapy, specialists observe how their pediatric patients behave with dogs, whether their tone of voice and body language change, etc. Later, this information can be helpful in creating a treatment plan.

Moreover, studies demonstrated amazing results regarding animal-assisted therapy for children with mental health issues like anxiety or depression. Social interaction can be quite stressful for kids with special needs, and dogs are able to make it more joyful, entertaining, and pleasurable in general. Not only that but negative emotions and destructive behavior are noticeably reduced as well, so patients experience better well-being, as support animal helps with mental and physical health condition in general.

Nursing homes

Nursing home residents can often feel lonely and abandoned after arriving at their new place due to a number of reasons: new surroundings, loss of beloved ones, different fears, lack of regular visitors, and so on. So, older people need more motivation to support their mental and physical health.

So, patients need emotional support in order not to feel depressed, passive, and inactive. And dogs (or other animals) can be a great help to keep their bodies and mind younger and make being in the establishment more enjoyable in general. Actually, even nursing home workers claim that there is a striking difference between patients who practice animal assistance therapy and those who don’t. By the way, that’s the reason why it is allowed and even recommended to bring your four-legged furry friends with you when you visit someone in such institutions.

Prisons

It may be surprising for some of you, but animal-assisted interventions are also used in prisons quite often. With the help of this method, it is possible to improve inmates’ behavior, decline violent infractions, and improve their emotional intelligence and self-control.

However, the results of animal therapy sessions shouldn’t be taken as a universal thing because, when it comes to prisons, everything is entirely situational and depends a lot on an individual’s personal background, mental state, and many other factors.

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Therapy Animals and Types of the Procedures

We have already mentioned this in previous paragraphs, but it is better to remind something to our readers one more time: animal-assisted sessions are not only about therapy dogs. Any type of animal can participate in a therapeutic intervention to boost one’s mental and physical well-being. And even though there are plenty of available options out there, now we would like to talk about the most widely used ones.

Dolphin therapy

This type (like some others) is mainly related to alternative medicine practice. Even though there are no documented proofs that it helps deal with certain psychological or physical issues, many people claim its effectiveness when it comes to anxiety, depression, and other conditions. Some specialists who work in this sphere also talk about how swimming with dolphins can be useful for those who have mobility health problems and muscle conditions, as well as blood pressure improvement.

Dog-assisted therapy

Dog-assisted therapy

Working with a therapy dog is one of the most popular practices when it comes to animal-assisted psychotherapy. With its help, a great improvement can be achieved in the cognitive, physical, socio-emotional, as well as behavioral functioning of a patient. Thanks to these animals’ friendly and welcoming character, people may feel more comfortable and open to the world; as a result, their stress level reduces, and health advancement can be reached pretty fast.

Typically, this procedure is recommended for individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, autism spectrum disorder, dementia, attention deficit, and other issues found in hospitalized psychiatric patients.

Psychiatric service dogs also work perfectly to reduce stress in schools, universities, offices, and other establishments. The happy, calm, and non-judgmental character of dogs makes every day (sometimes traumatic) routine more tolerable and enjoyable for people. Because of these benefits, a procedure is used more and more often in the modern world; hundreds of surveys and studies remarkably proved its serviceability.

Equine-assisted therapy

This type of therapy is also known as hippotherapy, and it is basically specially-planned training with horses. This method is used in twenty-four countries, and its popularity can be easily explained thanks to its beneficial effect on various cognitive, physical, psychological, and behavioral issues. The American Speech and Hearing Association have also approved it as an efficient treatment option for individuals with various hearing and speech disorders. Not to mention outstanding results demonstrated in people with mental health conditions after interaction with horses; it doesn’t always involve riding; however, the friendly and easy-going nature of these animals creates a positive environment for patients and noticeably improves their current mental state.

Pig therapy

Miniature pigs have been pets for people who don’t particularly enjoy dogs’ or cats’ company for dozens of years now. So, it was just a matter of time before they would be involved in animal-assisted therapy. Such facilities as airports, hospitals, nursing homes, etc., often use the services of these cute ungulates for clients with anxiety and PTSD; and of course, you shouldn’t forget about their outstanding performance in the emotional support animals sphere, especially for people with autism or panic attacks.

TherapyAnimal Printed Tags For Key or Harness

Benefits People Can Get After the Pet Therapy

As we have already explained, animal-assisted therapy is a practice that has an incredibly beneficial influence on both the physical and mental health of a person. It can be used in such establishments as schools, nursing homes, prisons, etc., and help people socialize better, as well as deal with certain conditions.

So, to conclude the article correctly, we have decided to prepare a detailed list of the positive impacts of working with animals. Some you may know, some may even be surprising, but the fact remains the same – anyone can find it useful in their own way.

Mental health-related

Emotional support animals for various mental disorders MyServiceAnimal

Here are some interesting facts about psychological benefits people may expect after spending some time with a therapy animal; it can be anything: petting them, playing, or just sitting close to our little furry friends:

  • Lower anxiety level and general success in relaxation (for those who have issues with that);
  • Noticeable boost in the natural production of prolactin, serotonin, oxytocin, and other hormones that are responsible for positive mood changes;
  • Reduced feeling of loneliness or fearfulness;
  • Better mental stimulation (especially in patients with head injuries or chronic diseases that have a negative influence on one’s memory);
  • It can be a great distraction for those who are stressed out;
  • Icebreaker for clients who visit the therapy for the first time and are afraid of this new experience.

Physical health-related

Physical health-related

Speaking about physiological benefits, these beautiful results can be achieved with the help of therapy animals; however, be ready that it can take some time in order for them to become more noticeable:

  • Better cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure;
  • Decline in physical pain in general;
  • Significant breathing improvement in anxious people;
  • Improved social interaction for children with autism (dog-assisted sessions are usually organized in establishments that work with children with special needs);
  • Less need for medications people typically require.

Final Word On This Topic

Animal-assisted therapy is a prevalent practice widely used for people with various mental and physical disabilities. It can be performed with the help of any animal – from dogs to miniature pigs. Their main job is to provide comfort to people, give them a feeling of safety and security, as well as make the social adaptation process much easier for them.

This procedure is used at many establishments and is proven its effectiveness during numerous surveys and studies. A significant improvement is noted in terms of blood pressure, heart conditions, various physical disabilities, as well as mental issues like anxiety, depression, OCD, etc. One thing we can say for sure – animal-assisted therapy is a relatively new but already incredibly effective procedure that will indeed be used as a treatment helper in the future. That’s it for today. Hopefully, you managed to find everything you needed in our article. Thank you for visiting our blog!

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