Assisted Animal Therapy

Decent Essays
Survivors of sexual abuse may reach a point in their lives where they find they need assistance from a professional in order to overcome the trauma of their experiences. Assisted animal therapy has been shown to make the task of having to recount painful and traumatic experiences much less daunting. Having an animal present in therapy sessions greatly increases the survivor’s ability to heal in a less threatening manner. An animal provides sympathy and comfort that are physically expressed without overstepping the therapist’s professional boundaries. Studies show that one in four girls and one in five boys are sexually abused before the age of eighteen. 44% of of all sexual abuse survivors are under the age of eighteen. In the United…show more content…
The survivors’ quality of life is greatly diminished because they tend to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Survivors with this disorder undergo physiological and behavioral changes, and develop detrimental coping mechanisms. Self-destructive behaviors such as self-harming, eating disorders, and substance abuse are prevalent among survivors of sexual abuse. Other deleterious effects arising in survivors are flashbacks, sleeping disorders, nightmares, mood and personality disorders, and heightened reactivity to stimuli. When someone who has experienced sexual abuse deals with the aftermath of their trauma, it then becomes a daily struggle to survive. The journey of healing from the trauma of sexual abuse can sometimes be long and painful. When a survivor seeks therapy in order to overcome the trauma, the assistance of an animal has been shown to reduce physical and emotional symptoms by 82%. The presence of an animal that has been trained to assist in therapy helps to decrease anxiety levels, lower the stress hormone cortisol, lessen depression, and reduce the need for self-isolation. Talking to an animal lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Petting a friendly, calm animal raises oxytocin and serotonin levels. The most significant outcome for the survivor who has had animal assisted therapy is greatly improved quality of
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