Enhancing the Well-Being of Clients with Animal Interaction
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What Is Pet Therapy?
Pet therapy is the guided interaction between a human and a trained animal. Pet therapy is frequently used as a therapeutic tool to help clients cope with or recover from health problems, such as chronic diseases and mental health disorders.
Just as pet therapy is used in a variety of situations, various types of animals are used for pet therapy as well, including dogs, cats, horses, fish, llamas, and even dolphins. Regardless of the type of animal used in a therapeutic intervention, research shows that this interaction improves the physical and mental well-being of clients.
In many cases, pet therapy can be used as a tool for active learning, as clients have to learn how to modify their behaviors, body language, and vocal signals to effectively communicate and interact with an animal. This important lesson can be carried over into everyday life and applied to interactions and communication with people. It can also serve as a foundation for learning how to improve interpersonal relationships while challenging clients to be more self-aware of their own body language and behaviors when communicating.
Although pet therapy may not provide all the same benefits for every client, it does provide comfort, encourage communication, and reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression for many clients in drug and alcohol rehab.
Benefits of Pet Therapy
- Improves mood
- Reduces feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and isolation
- Helps clients develop social skills
- Provides comfort
- Reduces stress
- Encourages relaxation
How Pet Therapy Is Used in Addiction Treatment
Women enrolled in Nova’s drug and alcohol rehab program will have the opportunity to participate in pet therapy sessions two times each month. We have partnered with a third-party organization called Divine Canines to provide this service. Divine Canines is a nonprofit organization made up of volunteers and their dogs who give their time to enhance the well-being of those in need.
Women travel to our Buda, Texas campus for each pet therapy session where they are greeted by friendly dogs of all breeds and ages. Although clients spend the majority of the time petting and playing with the dogs, our staff also spends time discussing the purpose of pet therapy and the many ways they can benefit from animal interaction in recovery—even if they don’t want a pet—such as going to the zoo or visiting an aquarium.
In drug and alcohol rehab, pet therapy gives our clients valuable time to interact with a nonjudgmental entity, opportunities to practice emotional regulation, and therapeutic time without any verbal requirements.
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