The Benefits Of Animal-Assisted Therapy

The Benefits Of Animal-Assisted Therapy

Animal-assisted therapy has been around for a few decades, but not all of us know how it can benefit us. As the name suggests, animal-assisted therapy is a form of therapy used with animals. It doesn't always have to be dogs - it can be cats, birds, mice, turtles, and even birds! 

Animals bring people a sense of comfort, and help them feel relaxed and at ease when going through tough emotional or even physical challenges in everyday life. They can help improve cognitive social, physical, and mental abilities in a patient of any age. Animals cannot speak the human language, but they do offer us a calming and non-judgemental outlook on life to help ease us and make us feel comfortable. They can also help people with learning or mental disabilities help them in everyday life, such as helping them cross a road or be there when they have an anxiety attack. Animal-assisted therapy can take place in your own home, a mental hospital, prisons, and regular hospitals. 

Animal-assisted therapy comes with many benefits. For mental health, it can help increase your self-esteem, reduce the need for medicine to treat mental disabilities and disorders, can help children overcome speech disorders, and can even help with depression! We all love animals, so animal-assisted therapy can benefit us physically as well. It reduces our blood pressure and the risk of a cardiovascular event, it can help reduce pain in the bones and the entire body, and petting an animal releases an automatic relaxation response and serotonin! Not only that but our lovely pets can also improve motor function by helping us complete tasks and if you have a dog that needs walking, it can provide help with walking and getting things done. Pets can motivate us to exercise and to walk so those who need physical therapy exercise to help maintain muscle movement can benefit from having a pet to maintain a healthy exercise routine. The animals who are used in animal-assisted programs can also play a big role in helping treat certain mental disorders such as autism, emotional and behavioral disorders, addiction, and can even help treat cancer alongside dementia!

Animals who can assist with cancer treatments help those affected by cancer by offering them comfort in everyday life. They help cancer patients psychologically by helping them through their chemo or regular treatments on an everyday basis. Studies have shown an increase in mental health and wellbeing when animals are used in helping patients through their treatments and everyday challenges. Animals have provided such a comfort to cancer patients that studies have shown a significant incline in motivation to go through the treatments. 

It may be certain that these pets do provide an overwhelming amount of support and allow us to face our challenges, but we do have to remember our responsibilities when receiving an animal-assisted therapy. If you are receiving animal-assisted therapy for your child, you as the adult need to remember that you will most likely be providing all to almost all of the animal's care - including walking them, feeding them, and giving them a place to relax while they are helping your child in need. You need to make sure that when you are in your animal-assisted therapy sessions that they are conducted in a safe and responsible manner to prevent any interactions that may be harmful to either the animal, you, or your child. It's important to be with a therapist who understands your animal's well-being and understands what to do when something may go wrong in the case of an emergency. In most cases, along with your therapist will be an animal professional who will help deliver a safe and beneficial therapy session for you or your loved one. These animals will not be forced to do something they do not want to do, which is essential for bonding with your animal to provide a relationship built on trust and respect.

In conclusion, animal-assisted therapy has been on the rise for a couple of decades as it is clear that patients do better when an animal is by their side. The animals, no matter if it is a dog, cat, or bird, can provide an overwhelming sense of comfort to the patient who is in a dire need of therapy and can provide motivational support to go to the meetings or treatments. They can help us go through challenges in our lives and make us happier. 

The benefits of animal-assisted therapy are something you should definitely think about if you are in need of a therapy session to help you with your mental or physical needs. But you need to remember that the responsibilities you will be taking on as a patient with an animal-assistant therapist, such as providing them a warm comfortable place to stay and feeding them and letting them use the bathroom. But overall, besides the responsibilities, this is a great way to help you motivate yourself to do everyday things like your medical treatments, whether it be for physical or mental needs, and help you overcome mental challenges when doing treatments as some patients may experience. There is no harm in researching about getting an animal-assistant therapist and meeting a friendly dog, cat, bird, or even turtle today to help you with anything you may need help with. You'll probably find a very cute and furry friend to help you relax and motivate yourself to take on the challenges in your life!

Source: PsychCentral, Advanced Counseling Services, Psychology Today, CogniFit


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