What is Animal Assisted Therapy?
At St. John’s Recovery Place we love animals. We have seen such an amazing positive impact pairing animals with our clients. Incorporating animal assisted therapy with some of our traditional treatments has had a huge impact on the well-being of our clients. A large array of studies over the past decade have proven that the special bond between animals and humans is extremely therapeutic. Animal assisted therapy has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression regardless of age. Studies have shown that these positive changes were in every client despite the length of therapy session, or the severity of symptoms. Overall, having animals around lightens up everyone’s mood at the facility, especially while going through what may be a difficult and rough time. We want clients to have as many opportunities to re-discover joy in life. Having animals around, most commonly dogs, help do just that.
“Animal Assisted Therapy, according to Psychology Today is defined as “a therapeutic intervention that incorporated animals, such as horses, dogs, cats, pigs and birds into a treatment plan. It is used to enhance and complement the benefits of traditional therapy.”
You may have heard the saying, “a dog is a man’s best friend.” Well throughout history, we have seen the value that animals provide to us humans, dogs being the most popular and common companion animal of all. Early studies have shown that dogs are extremely sensitive to the changes of human behavior, human emotions, and facial expressions. Hence, dogs are a great choice for animal-assisted intervention to help clients with various physical and mental health disorders. Such an intervention is called canine assisted therapy. This therapy is effective with the interaction between therapy dogs and clients. It enhances well-being and therapeutic activities such as social-emotional, cognitive, and behavioral functioning of the clients. Clients will construe well trained therapy dogs as welcoming and friendly. Therapy dogs are required to be of a calm temperament to accommodate contact with clients who are unfamiliar to them, as they comfort clients through body contact. We have seen positive change from interactions between our trained dogs and even troubled, angry, and reclusive clients. This is because people tend to find compassion and empathy from nonjudgmental and unconditional loving animals they encounter. We want our clients to experience this acceptance, and love again. We’re so excited for you or a loved one to find joy with our furry friends at our facility. If you have any question, don’t hesitate to give us a call.
Animal Assisted Therapies and Addiction
Today, animal assisted therapy (AAT) is used quite often to engage in interactions which can assist clients in re-establishing trust relationships with others, while improving their anxious feelings and stress levels. We have found it to be extremely effective in people suffering from anxiety, depression and addiction. With AAT being so beneficial, we also integrate it with other therapies to treat various diagnoses.
Since individuals going through the recovery process may have physical, emotional and mental challenges, animal assisted therapy can help to restore healing and a healthy lifestyle. The animal assisted program at SJRP understands that addiction can cause many people to feel lonely, afraid, angry, and depressed. AAT has proven to have a huge positive impact for recovering clients of all ages. Social, emotional and even cognitive functions improve when a client does not feel alone, and in the meantime, the client learns how to care and spend time with an animal. Having to be responsible for a four-legged friend, one feels sensible and caring towards the animal, possibly bringing out emotions, moods and behaviors they have not experienced in a long time.
Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT):
- Increase in Socialization Among Clients
- Stabilization of Emotions
- Increase of Self-Worth
- Elevates Nurturing Emotions
- Provides Pleasure
- Decreases Stress
- Reduces Anger & Depression
- Teaches Patiences & Builds Trust
- Sense of Empowerment
- Reduces Anxiety