Published On: September 27, 20233.5 min read700 wordsCategories: Recovery
Animals’ capacity for empathy and intelligence makes them a beautiful and beneficial addition to a person’s recovery plan.
Though “therapy pets” are often thought about as serving in the mental health community, such as for those with anxiety, these animals are also beneficial to those in addiction recovery.
Regularly interacting with animals has many positive effects on our mental and physical health, from bringing us joy when we feel sad to getting us peace when we feel anxious. Animal therapy offers a wide variety of benefits to people of all ages.
Today, we will take a closer look at the top benefits of pet therapy and how this treatment modality is far more helpful than you might initially think.
What is pet therapy?
Animal therapy, also known as pet therapy or animal-assisted therapy, refers to using animals in a therapeutic environment to assist in a person’s recovery from a physical or mental condition.
Depending on the person’s unique situation, history with animals, and individual preferences, certain animals are better suited than others to serve the role.
Animal therapy encompasses a variety of creatures, including dogs, horses, cats, birds, dolphins and more. Dogs and horses are two of the most common “therapy pets,” but depending on the facility, many other animals may be on site to help serve.
Rest assured that every animal used for therapy has been well-socialized, excellently trained and immersed explicitly in this environment throughout their upbringing. If you’re open to working with pets as therapy but are hesitant, know you’re entirely safe.
What are the benefits of pet therapy?
For animal lovers, it’s not hard to imagine the joy and overall higher quality of life you experience when you have one (or several) furry friends in your life. There’s no shortage of benefits.
If you can’t quite put it into words, or you genuinely aren’t sure how “adding a dog” to your treatment plan is supposed to help, we’ll walk you through it.
Here are the top four pet therapy benefits.
1. Having a sense of purpose
A connection develops between the patient and the pet while working together, and this bond often accompanies a sense of responsibility. Patients wonder about the pet while they’re away and perhaps worry about its quality of life (even if there’s no cause for concern).
Even the temporary bonds that form with these animals can instill a stronger sense of joy, confidence and purpose in the individual, therefore boosting their recovery.
2. Emotional support
Those in addiction recovery generally also are repairing additional areas of their lives that experienced destruction due to the effects of the substance use disorder.
The amount of healing they undergo can be intense and overwhelming; regularly interacting with pets can provide emotional comfort and reduce feelings of sadness and isolation.
3. Enhanced health and well-being
Frequently interacting with animals has been shown to reduce stress levels, relieve anxiety symptoms, and nurture feelings of contentment and fulfillment.
Pet therapy has shown physical benefits to patients, such as lowering their blood pressure and an elevated heart rate.
4. Improved social interaction
A common struggle many people experience throughout addiction recovery is learning how to communicate and interact with other adults again in a healthy, productive way.
For those who are shy, anxious or otherwise experiencing difficulties making friends or rebuilding relationships, working with animals can help encourage social interaction and improve communication skills.
If you or someone you love could benefit from working with therapy pets, reach out to us today, and we can point you in the right direction with where to go from here.
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