Dogs are a man’s best friend, and animals are playing a new role in human mental health and development. Animal assisted intervention uses pets and therapy dogs to help humans heal social and emotional issues. Animals have a natural sensitivity and therapy animals seem to have an extra special ability to connect with adults and children.
Learn how animal supported counseling can boost mood and help with depression and anxiety. Explore how animal assisted therapy could help your child increase confidence, promote healthy social development, improve relationship skills, enhance communication skills, and even boost balance and flexibility!
Animals are so engaging for children! When a child is challenged with social interaction, identification of mood or emotion in others, or problems paying attention, the therapy animal can get in there and make a shift … without the child even noticing! As the child focuses on the animal, a natural mirroring takes place. When the animal moves, the child will tend to move, too.
The therapy animals are highly sensitive to the mood and emotions of the child. As the child moves through various emotional states, the animal is likely to respond by moving closer, pulling back, or looking away. In this way, the therapy animal actively trains children to be more attention to the feelings of others, remain calm, and regulate their emotions.
Emotional regulation is a particular challenge with challenges like Autism Spectrum Disorder, attachment disorder, and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. When animal assisted therapy is appropriate, children often benefit in ways that seem magical.
In addition to animal assisted counseling and intervention, certain animal assisted therapies also help children with motor control, balance, and proprioception. These skills help children become more mobile and enjoy independence in caring for themselves.
Adults also respond well to animal assisted counseling and interventions. Individuals with developmental disorders, mood disorders, and depression may find relief from the boost that a therapy animal can bring to the healing process. Animal assistants not only help adults with mood and mental health issues but may also help promote recovery and rehabilitation after illness, injury, or surgery.
The National Institute of Health has published extensive research supporting the efficacy of animal assisted approaches to counseling, intervention, and rehabilitation. The next time you are looking for an effective and inspiriting way to help a loved one deal with emotional, social, or developmental challenges, think of an Animal Assisted Solution!
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