Pets are the most affectionate creature to keep company with. But, besides offering great companionship, they are also helpful in reducing the level of stress and anxiety. With this knowledge out of the box, more and more pets are being employed to offer love, warmth, comfort to those who are need of affection and care.
Not only professionals but some domestic pet owners too, volunteer to take their pets to hospitals or hospices to meet children, patients, old-citizens. This offers such people to get a chance to touch the animal and feel the warmth of happiness and companionship.
Such sessions are usually carried out with dogs however, people do love being in the company of cats and horses.
Many organizations organize such events and help people suffering or recovering from social anxiety or stress. However, the use of animals to treat some specific goal is a little known and practiced method. This is known as animal assisted therapy and is becoming popular slowly for its amazing & reliable results.
Common animal assisted therapies that have been proved to be beneficial so far to include:
Pat A Dog:
In these animal assisted activities people are encouraged to participate in casual meet & greet sessions where people with animals and the patients can socialize in a hospital or nursing home. Usually, these activities are targeted to any specific goal but to make patients feel loved.
Ms. Joanna Yao, a senior clinical psychologist at the Institute of Mental Health, says, “As animals do not hold preconceived notions of people and accept them for who they are, our patients can engage wholeheartedly and interact with them without fear of being evaluated or judged negatively,”
Ms. Yao has been organizing animal-assisted activities since 2006 and claims it to be result oriented.
“Pet-assisted activities encourage patients to have conversations with others, such as the dog handlers or their fellow patients. This can be helpful in promoting social interaction and improving social skills.” She adds.
The result of the company of a furry, four-legged animal is proved to raise the levels of cortisol, a stress related hormone. It also accelerates the secretion of endorphins, which is a neurotransmitter that boosts calming effects.
The working dogs:
Here pets, primarily dogs are used as a form of treatment and is the latest effective addiction therapy.
In such activities a patient with assisted by a professional to attain certain health goals through animal interactions.
The common treatments include treating people with social disorders like stress and anxiety or helping children in developing special skills.
The dogs used in these therapies are trained to understand the special needs of the patients and work under the expert guidance of trained professionals.
Dogs are known to help people to feel more relaxed and this ultimately boosts the effects of the therapies. People who find it hard to talk or letting it go feel easy to deal with their problems in the presence of dogs.
Animal-assisted therapies have been quite popular amid depression, substance abuse & patients with mental illness and the results vouch for it.