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Pet Therapy– Animal Therapy

Pet therapy now has a major part to play in the ongoing therapy and treatment for many conditions of the human mind and physical experience. Pet therapy is a proven stress suppressor, and has been proven to produce endorphins and serotonin, both of which have a major influence on the well being of the individual. Pet therapy has been introduced into major organizations and companies throughout the world, working on the scientific evidence that it’s a better, and safer way to heal. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of therapy that involves animals as a form of treatment. The goal of AAT is to improve a patient’s social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.

Pet Therapy- Dolphins

One of the most well know types of Pet Therapy involves the use of dolphins, which have a great affinity with humans. With large brains, and being hugely sociable, and living in similar family units to humans, they present themselves to us as being of similar creatures, and offer patients a fantastic opportunity to tune into their healing qualities, allowing patients suffering with mental and emtional disorders, and physical aliments to harness their love and energizing frequencies. Pet Therapy doesn’t stop at dolphins, in fact it crosses every boundary with each and every living thing. Animals in nature provide the same kind of positive responses to people’s over all well being. The use of animals as a type of therapy is becoming mainstream as the ongoing search for natural remedies continues. The use of drugs has been widespread and relied upon too much. The balance is swinging back to the Eastern philosophies as the western pill culture proves time after time that it’s not all it’s been made out to be. Pet Therapy now offers a real, clean, and fulfilling experience to both practitioner and patient.

Pet Therapy – Care Home

A therapist who brings along a pet may be viewed as being less threatening, increasing the rapport between patient and therapist. Animals used in therapy include domesticated pets, farm animals and marine mammals. With increasing effectiveness, animals are being introduced into Care Homes.Sigmund Freud kept many dogs and often had one present during his pioneering sessions of psychoanalysis. He noticed that the presence of the dog was helpful because the patient would find that their speech would not shock or disturb the dog and this reassured them and so encouraged them to relax and confide. This was most effective when the patient was a child or adolescent, or an elderly patient. The theory behind AAT is what is known as Attachment theory. Many care homes have programs now that will involve a weekly or monthly visit from a Pet therapist, which could be someone with a dog that comes in, or a company which brings in different species of animals. The aim of the visits is to increase contact interaction, and stimulate both mind and body, leading to harmonious experience for the heart and soul. There are many ways in which the structure of Pet therapy can be carried out. You can have set plan, with positive goals to reach, such a structure may look like this:

Stage One:
Patient goes to session with therapist without animals present to assess therapy needs. The next session the animal is introduced to the client and interactions between the animal and client begin.
Stage Two:
Developing a bond between the animal and client by developing motor skills. Examples include feeding the animal treats or grooming. Then an introduction of verbal skills using verbal commands such as stay and sit. Therapists use animals as a form of motivation for the client. The client is asked to perform tasks like getting water and food for their animal to improve motor functions like walking. Positive social interactions with animals is translated and generalized to positive human interactions.
Stage Three:
Therapist monitors improvement with animal interaction and human interaction and judges positive social situation. Patients are then given power and independence with the freedom to make choices for the animal assisted therapy partner. After client can interact with humans as well as they can with animals treatment is complete.

This form of Pet therapy is pretty intensive and not always a viable option for care homes which often work on low budgets for extra activities. The most common type of Pet therapy will be a situation when an outside person or business comes to the care home and provides a duration of time for the residents to see, touch and hold the animals. It;s usually very informal, and the Pet therapist will engage with the residents as well as overseeing the animal contact.

Pet Therapy – Facts

A 1998 study looked at the use of AAT in reducing anxiety levels of institutionalized patients. They determined that anxiety levels were significantly reduced in patients with mood disorders and psychotic disorders after a session of Pet Therapy. In fact, for the patients with psychotic disorders, those who participated in Pet Therapy had twice the reduction in anxiety scores as those who participated in some other form of recreational activity. This suggests the low demands of human-animal interaction was effective for individuals with psychotic disorders as compared to traditional therapy. A controlled study of 20 elderly schizophrenic patients found significant improvements through the use of cats and dogs as companions, indicating that this population may benefit from the companionship of an animal, especially if they do not have access to friends or family. Pet Therapy provide lasting benefits, and pet therapy is proven to work.

Pet Therapy- Booking a session

To book an Animal Pet Therapy session email animalman@minizoo.org.uk and ask for Kevin or Kate.