Animal Based Therapy : Benefits For Individuals With Disabilities

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Animal-based therapy provides many benefits for individuals with a disability. When assisting individuals with disabilities it is important to consider all options that will help them achieve the most success in life. Deciding which therapies to use is often difficult and should be decided on by the individual, their doctors, therapist, and family. Any drawbacks will need to be weighed against the advantages to ensure the course of treatment will be effective and appropriate for the individual. Revisions may need to be considered for the patient along the treatment path. Of the many types of therapies available, it is important to look at the benefits of animal assisted therapy. Individuals with disabilities who are routinely engaged in companion animal therapy develop a greater range of social skills than those who are not involved in any form of therapeutic animal-based therapy. For centuries people have known that animal companionship has brought many benefits to people’s lives. According to Kathryn Heimlich, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the first known time a companion animal was used to aid in a therapy program was “York Retreat in England, an establishment founded by the Quakers for persons with mental illness” (Heimlich, 2001, p. 48). As stated by Heimlich, the first published reports of the benefits of animal-assisted therapy come from Psychologist Boris Levinson. Levinson “discovered that he could reach a disturbed child during therapy
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