Has animal-assisted therapy helped people in different ways? Let’s talk more about the therapy here.
How can it help with mental health? How does animal-assisted therapy affect the individual? Can this treatment really make an impact?
How This Treatment Helps People in Overcoming Mental Health and Its History of Helping Great Leaders in History
Animal-assisted therapy has been helping people to overcome mental health issues such as depression and anxiety over the years. Animals help us to reconnect with our gentle and innocent side where we do not worry and overthink our surroundings.
Did you know that some great leaders in history had a pet or two, which also happens to be their pseudo psychologists? President Andrew Jackson, even a famous war hero, had an obnoxious pet parrot that he loved dearly. As for President George Washington, he had so many dogs. He had French and English foxhounds – which for him were brilliant beings. Even Queen Victoria was an animal lover. She had a Pekingese, which was a gift to her. So, you see, pets are essential as it brings a sense of calm and relaxation even to the busiest of people. These are great examples of animal-assisted therapy.
Unique Facts About How The Therapy Will Work
This is the very reason why, at this time, this is practiced. Here’s a list of 8 unique facts you’d love to know about animal-assisted therapy.
According to Maureen Huang, MSW, AASW, “Animal-assisted therapy is a therapeutic tool that can be utilized in the counseling/psychotherapy process, providing social and emotional benefit to clients.” This can play a major role in an individual’s rehabilitation.
The Animal-Assisted Therapy For Mental Health – Harnessing The Power Of Pets
Even before animal-assisted therapy has been formally introduced in the 1960s, a few mental health professionals have already harnessed the power of animals to help them to heal their patients.
Sigmund Freud was a notable neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis. He has helped lots of mentally disturbed patients through his counseling sessions. But what enhanced these sessions is the presence of Jofi, his intelligent canine. In a way, Jofi comforted and relaxed his patients which made them respond to treatment better.
Helping Patients During Therapy (Animal-Assisted)
“Service animals are specially trained to assist with or perform tasks for people with disabilities,” says psychologist Aubrey Fine. “A psychiatric service dog, for example, might be specially trained to remind someone to take his or her psychiatric medication, check a room and turn on the lights for someone with anxiety or stop someone from engaging in self-mutilation behavior, for example,” she adds.
When a counselor brings an animal to a treatment session, he knows that he’s not the only one responsible for helping the patient. He realizes that the animal assistant is equal, beneficial treatment, and not just there as a mere distraction for the patient.
Animal assistants are meant to be treated fairly. It’s like bringing in another counselor to an animal-assisted therapy session. Hence, their needs must be met by the counselors for them to function well in helping the patient. A counselor is responsible for the animal’s needs, including:
- Regular water and food breaks
- Peeing and pooping breaks as needed
- Avoiding overstimulation of the animal
- Ensuring that the animal is comfortable throughout the session
Trained Pets Are More Effective To Aid People With Disabilities
Specialized counselors often bring in their trained pets to traditional treatment sessions for people with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They know that this so-called human-animal bond helps strengthen the mental health of these individuals.
The human-animal bond is a relationship that stems and grows into a mutually beneficial improvement of health and well-being. The treatment starts during the initial interaction between humans and animals, and gradually intensifies as they get together for more extended periods.
Meanwhile, you can now have therapies within the comfort of your home through online counseling such as BetterHelp. These are very reliable ways to undergo treatment since professionals facilitate it. A lot of people have tried it, and there are numerous online reviews for you to check.
Animals who are trained, especially for animal-assisted therapy often work together with counselors during treatment sessions. Handlers of these animals are typically the counselors themselves. This creates a bond that makes them a better tag team during counseling sessions.
They must not be confused with other kinds of service-oriented pets, such as:
Emotional support animals – Pets who have been trained to alleviate emotional pain from humans. Without these animals, an emotionally conflicted individual may easily break down mentally.
Service animals – Pets who are uniquely trained to help persons with disabilities. They perform tasks such as opening doors, pressing elevator buttons, and guiding physically disabled people.
Helping People Through Treatments
Therapeutic and safe physical interaction with an animal assistant helps mentally challenged patients in expressing what they truly feel inside. They don’t even have to voice it out to their counselor during a treatment session.
No doubt about it. Our favorite canines are, indeed, man’s best friend. Dogs are the most utilized animals not only because they are widespread pets. Research has proven that dogs can pick up human emotions quickly and find ways to work around them to make the human feel better in an instant. No wonder two of the great leaders mentioned above had lots of dogs.
This might be a little unusual, and many might not believe it, but horses are next to dogs in providing care and comfort to distressed humans.
Horses can mirror a patient’s behavioral and emotional state, which is excellent for assessing the true feelings of a mentally problematic patient. They also quickly respond to nonverbal cues due to their innate observant nature.
Expert Opinions On An Ethical Training
“In my clinical practice as a professional counselor, I have worked with a dog, a rabbit, and horses and I’ve noticed benefits–especially anxiety reduction and relationship enhancement–when working with all three species,” says Leslie Stewart, Ph.D., LPC.
Dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, guinea pigs, and llamas are all considered animals fit for pet treatment. But counselors don’t pick a well-behaved animal and then bring it right inside a treatment session. These animals need to be certified through an ethical training program. They must have core competencies to aid counselors in helping people.