Pets in the Counseling Office: Using Man’s Best Friend for Therapy

Insurance companies are unlikely to recognize cats or dogs as preferred providers in the future. However, an increasing number of hospitals, rest homes, and therapists are using animals as co-therapists in some way. Animals have traditionally been seen to be helpful companions for persons who are ill.

History of Companionship

The United Kingdom has been more forward-thinking in its usage of pets for therapeutic purposes than the United States. A Quaker retreat center in the 1790s allowed its patients to spend time touching and engaging with the facility’s wandering farm animals. The team thought that this would help people’s mental health more than the antiquated methods available at the time.

Therapeutic horseback riding programs in Germany in the 1960s were the forerunners of animal-assisted therapy. The use of animals in therapeutic settings did not become increasingly prevalent in the United States until the 1980s.

Dogs, cats, horses, Capuchin monkeys, and a variety of birds are among the animals utilized in various visitations and treatment settings. More often than not, social workers and physical therapists have been at the forefront in using animals to aid patients.

Benefits to Consider

Therapists have learned that having an animal in the office, whether it’s a cat, a dog, or a tank full of fish, may help them relax. Animals can assist to calm anxious emotions. They can be utilized to make contact with a reluctant youngster or a reticent customer.

An animal can operate as a conduit for human-to-human connection. If a person is paranoid, he or she may find it difficult to communicate with you, whereas the animal serves as a conduit.

The experimental and control groups in a study of a twice-weekly animal visiting program at rehabs that allow dogs found a substantial difference in residents’ functioning. Those who got visits had lower levels of despair and anxiety, which was statistically significant.

Visitors to nursing homes who were accompanied by an animal had more favorable interaction reactions from the residents than those who arrived alone, according to studies. Residents who were exposed to pets were happier, more attentive, and less physically violent. When an animal was present, patients were considerably more tolerant of others standing near them.

Dogs, in particular, provide unconditional acceptance. They don’t mind if you’re high on drugs, drunk, or HIV positive. When that animal approaches you, you realize that no matter what your circumstances are, someone wants to connect with you.

Animals do not respond, criticize, or issue commands. Children of all ages who are disturbed by animals are less likely to act out. The animals seemed to strengthen their self-control by adding a feeling of predictability to their lives. There are also physiological implications to consider.

Is Pet Therapy for You?

What can you do in your practice if you employ pets? Make certain you appreciate animals and can form bonds with them. You can’t make this happen.

You’ll need an animal that is friendly and attentive to people. Not every cat or dog is. Certain dog breeds are more effective than others.

Knowing the many personality types of dogs, for example, is crucial. According to research, matching the characteristics of humans and dogs is a crucial stage.