Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is an effective therapy method that is currently being proposed for as a treatment for a wide variety of conditions. In this report, I discuss research that has been conducted on the benefits of animal-assisted therapy in relation to mental and emotional well-being, and as it relates to recovery. I have applied my research to include a variety of subjects, including children with autism, patients suffering from PTSD, college students, the elderly, and outpatient recovery. Finally, I conclude my report with a proposal of a new AAT program that will benefit the community and reduce pet homelessness.
Animals and humans have had a symbiotic relationship for thousands of years, and they play an important role in our everyday lives by providing tremendous benefits to our mental and physical well-being. One way the human-animal bond has been formed is in the form of companion animals, or pets, with dogs being the most notable example. This study primarily focuses on dogs and the examples they have provided as an option for treatment and therapy, but it by no means excludes other types of animals from serving the same purpose.
I have focused my report on animal-assisted therapy as it relates to mental health. I have narrowed my research to conditions that are very common among the general population, such as, autism, PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
Limitations of the Study
Most of my
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Animal Assisted Therapy also known as animal-assisted therapy has been formally introduced to the world in the last ten years or so. Although animals have always been a place of comfort for a lot of people, scientists just began to realize the impact animals have on society. The world has begun to experiment with what animals can do to benefit human health. The most common type of animal-assisted therapy is equine-assisted therapy. Equines are horses. Equine-assisted therapy 's impact on minors who have mental health issues have led to a successful new type of therapy that includes multiple benefits. Equine-assisted therapy has worked well in is treating adolescents and children how to communicate and connect with others. Two big issues that animal-assisted therapy has been known to help is Autism and kids with attachment and social problems.
Florence Nightingale was the first person to recognize the therapeutic potential of animals in the late 1800s. Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing which enabled her to make such discoveries by observing the impact animals had on her medical patients. She discovered that the company of a small pet reduced anxiety in children and adults that resided in psychiatric institutions and recorded her findings in her book “Notes on Nursing”. With Nightingale’s involuntary record of these human-animal interactions, animal-assisted therapy approaches began to flourish.
In the field of therapy, there are numerous of therapy available out there for different type of individuals and situations as well. There is one type of therapy that usually contains people and animal, it is animal-assisted therapy is a therapeutic approach that brings animals and individuals with physical and/or emotional needs together to perform the therapy. Animal-assisted therapy tend to be focused on individuals either children or elderly for them to be able to connect with the animal thus feeling comfortable talking with the therapist. Pet therapy works for all ages, whether sick or not (Lanchnit, 2011). Although, this paper, most of the focus is on animal-assisted therapy towards children using dogs.
Emotional support animals can take on a multitude of jobs that “may include reminding the handler to take medicine, providing safety checks or room searches, or turning on lights for persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, interrupting self-mutilation by persons with dissociative identity disorders, and keeping disoriented individuals from danger,” (Brennan). These animals are often considered pets but are actually so much more than that, emotional support animals have a very important role in protecting the mental health of their owners and keep them safe. Not only do these animals protect people’s mental health but they also give people a purpose. Taking care of one of these dogs or other animals gives people something to take care of and focus on. Knowing that there is another living thing that relies on them can be very grounding and keep people connected to something outside of themselves.
Medical professionals have recently seen the positive effects animals are able to provide to their patients with mental disabilities. The emotional support dog MA recognizes
Nepps, & Bruckno, (2014) and Souter & Miller,(2007) results were determined by pre/ post questionnaires and scales that viewed each participant mood before and after each session to see the outcome and effectiveness. It showed a dramatic increase in mood. It was also shown that that therapeutic alliance is enhanced with the addition of a therapy dog within a group setting with adult clients in a residential drug abuse treatment setting. Animal assisted therapy has also been shown to reduce feelings of anger and symptoms of PTSD, which can contribute to an overall improvement of mood and reduce depressive
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
Questions arise concerning the treatment of therapy dogs when visiting patients and whether animal-assisted therapy really works at all; however, those who disagree aren’t looking at the big picture. Animal-assisted therapy is both an ethical and effective therapy method due to its success in treating those with chronic diseases, disorders, and managing stress and anxiety. The varieties of cases regarding the success of therapy dog treatments far surmount the amount of cases saying otherwise. Animal-assisted therapy stems from the human-animal connection, one of the most unique and powerful bonds man has ever experienced. It is that connection that allows animal assisted therapy to be a critical part of everyone’s daily
One anxiety disorder that contains trauma related thoughts, negative moods, and alterations in arousal such as anger or hypervigilance is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This disorder has been classified to have high rates of depression and substances abuse. According to Glintborg and Hansen (2017), Adults experiencing PTSD are one of the most difficult populations to treat and have up to a 50 percent chance of dropping out of treatment. However, a new therapeutic approach researchers are now exploring is animal treatment. Professionals are establishing goal-directed therapeutic intervention for this population with Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). When being exposed to an animal, studies have shown positive effects in an individual’s
In a recent study conducted by Rebecca Johnson, Ph.D., RN, of the University of Missouri-Columbia Center for the Study of Animal Wellness showed that when humans pet a dog, within minutes there is a huge amount of beneficial hormones known to be associated with health and feelings of well-being.(Becker par. 2) These hormones are called beta endorphin, prolactin, dopamine, oxytocin, and beta phenylethylamine (Becker par. 2). The hormones that are released from the interaction between the animal and the human allow the patients to feel more blissful and trusting. Along with being emotionally benefited from working with animals in assisted therapy; people can benefit physically. For example, people who have physical
“A Healthy Dose of Puppy Love” by Kathryn Satterfield describes a new study that shows that dogs can improve an individual’s health by lowering anxiety levels and by improving cardiac function. Specially trained therapy dogs visited a hospital in November in Dallas, Texas to help conduct a study that animals can improve an individual’s health, to do this people split the seventy six patients into a total of three groups: visitors with dogs, visitors, and an “at rest group.” For accurate results researches preformed anxiety tests on the patients before, during, and after the visit, and the results concluded that patients who received visits from people had encountered a ten percent drop in anxiety, while patients who received visits from dogs
Another concern for the use of animals in occupational therapy is how the therapist will obtain therapy animals (Cipriani et al., 2013, p. 215). If no suitable animals are immediately available from other sources, the cost of the therapist obtaining, training, and certifying their own therapy animal is not insignificant. However, if an animal is available from another source, whether it be a volunteer or an organization, proper investigation must be done to determine the reliability and legitimacy of the provider and of the therapy animal. Winkle suggests that appropriate therapy animals can be obtained from organizations that train professional assistance animals. Although therapy animals require different skills than assistance animals are trained for, much of the intermediate training and skills are the same (Winkle, 2012, p. 11).
Animal assisted therapy is a type of therapy that is becoming more and more successful. Alicia MIller, co-founder of Operation Wolfhound, says, “Medication works 50% of the time, talk therapy alone, works 30% of the time, and dogs work 84.5% of the time” (qtd. in Caprioli). With overwhelming statistics like that, more hospitals or rehabilitation centers should utilize this practice. Many different ages can work with the animals, however it is mainly directed toward the youth (Pugh). Therapy animals are extremely beneficial and have helped many people cope with disorders and therefore this program should be expanded.
Animal assisted therapy includes all psychological theories and incorporates animals, such as dogs or horses, into a therapeutic treatment plan. It is used to enhance and complement traditional therapy methods, but it is not done by itself. Animal assisted therapy has been effectively used in individuals with autism, medical conditions, and trauma survivors. It may also be implemented for people with psychological disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, and addiction. Depending on the type of therapy and the type of animal involved, you may keep the therapy animal at home and with you throughout the day for emotional support, or you might learn to ride and care for a therapy horse that is kept at an equestrian facility. Afterwards, you