When we think of animals, we often think of them as pets: dogs, cats, horses, etc. They come into our lives, and while they challenge us, they make us feel better because they love us unconditionally. We become their world, and we do what we can to make them happy too. Because of this connection, they are often used uniquely, and that is through animal-assisted therapy.
Animal-assisted therapy has been proven to help those in going through therapy in various settings. Continue reading to learn more about animal-assisted therapy, and why we have incorporated it into our addiction treatment program.
THE BEGINNING OF ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY
Animal-assisted therapyfirst started during the ancient Greek times, to lift the spirits of the severely ill. This was explicit with horses; Equine therapy continued through the 1600s. During the 1800s, Florence Nightingale found that smaller animals, such as pets, were found to reduce levels of anxiety and stress in psychiatric patients. As the idea of animal-assisted therapy grew, others in the field flocked to see other reasons for animals and pets to be a part of therapy.
In the 1960s, the first research of animal-assisted therapy was completed by Dr. Boris Levinson. Dr. Levinson found that patients were more comfortable and more likely to interact with his dog than with other humans. This belief stemmed because patients would develop a bond with the animal, showing a significant reduction in anxiety, depression and stress symptoms.
Animal-assisted therapy is now widely known and used in several different settings, including, but not limited to prisons, psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes, treatment facilities and many others.
WHAT DOES ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY INVOLVE?
Animal-assisted therapy is more than merely spending time with the animal; it involves specific therapeutic goals around the animal. This can include walking, brushing, petting and even caring for the animal. Through these processes, a client can learn skills they were not aware they had and in a safe environment, free from judgment.
Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy
Animal-assisted therapy can help a person mentally, emotionally, physically and socially improve. Benefits of animal-assisted therapy include, but are not limited to:
Increased focus and attention
Increased ability to care for oneself
Enhanced ability to trust and participate in teamwork
Grown in social skills
ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY IN HUNTINGTON BEACH, CALIFORNIA
At Framework Recovery, we believe in animal-assisted therapy. We have several dogs that visit our facility regularly, including:
Noble, a corgi/border collie mix that is often at the office and lives at home with the clients
Luna, a trained therapy husky who is often at the office and in therapy sessions/group
Lucy, an Italian greyhound
Sedona, a Shiloh shepherd
Our four furry friends are great additions to the Framework team. They bring hope and happiness to all the clients they get to meet. The clients are given the ability to interact with the dogs practically daily, which includes petting, walking, brushing and more.
As a therapist and a dog owner, I know the benefits of having a dog. Every day, I’m reminded of how much I am needed and loved unconditionally by this animal. It is a daily motivator to continue what I’m doing and to be the best version of myself for her.
If you’d like to talk to us about our addiction treatment program or specifically about our animal-assisted therapy, please give us a call.