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Using Pet Therapy To Boost Mental Health Treatment

It’s no secret that people love their pets, which is why pet therapy is so effective. Pets can have an amazing effect on people who need a loving non-judgmental companion to spend time with. Some of the many benefits of pet therapy include relief from anxiety and stress, depression, reduced blood-pressure, elevated mood, and increased self-esteem. Most importantly, a session of pet therapy can benefit people of all ages: both individually and in groups. In this article, we’ll look  at some of the benefits that this unique form of therapy can have on adults, children, seniors, and families.

Pet Therapy and Mental Health

So how does pet therapy improve mental health? Studies show that including pet therapy in any existing mental health treatment program is likely to increase participation and attendance. This is because pets have a way of making people feel comfortable and willing to speak about their experiences which aids the recovery process and helps create a communal environment within any recovery center. In short, there’s a reason pets are our best friends. Nothing can beat the unconditional love and assurance of a furry companion, which is why pet therapy is a great addition to any treatment program and beneficial for people of all ages.

1. Children And Pet Therapy

Pet therapy has been shown to help children focus better which, in turn, has contributed to improved literacy skills and reading confidence. In fact, pet therapy can significantly improve a child’s self-esteem by providing them with a relaxed, non-judgemental companion to interact with. Pets can also teach children about responsibility, especially for other living things, and can help them be more socially active and willing to engage in outdoor activities. Moreover, studies have shown that having an animal present during other therapy or treatment sessions can improve the child’s response to treatment. Pet therapy has also been shown to help children overcome some speech impediments by allowing them to build confidence in their speaking abilities and children who have been exposed to pet therapy are also afforded the opportunity to overcome early emotional disorders by learning to care for the pet.

2. Adults And Therapeutic Pets

Pet therapy offers a wide variety of health benefits for adults. Including those previously mentioned, pet therapy has also been shown to lower work-related anxiety and stress and reduce feelings of loneliness. Not to mention, pets have been shown to help teach adults without children nurturing and the responsibility commonly associated with parenthood. Pets are also a great addition to adult therapy sessions for increased responsiveness and relaxation. Studies have shown that spending time with pets via pet therapy allows for the release of plenty of endorphins which produce a calm, euphoric state. Endorphins also help combat physical pain, making pet therapy an ideal supplement for physical therapy or rehabilitation.

3. Seniors And Pets

Seniors are especially prone to a variety of physical ailments and health problems, some of which pet therapy can help with. Pet therapy has been shown to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels among the elderly. Moreover, seniors sometimes find themselves isolated as their children have lives and responsibilities of their own. Pet therapy can bring companionship to seniors and help them socialize with others, thus reducing the rates of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and depression. Pet therapy can also help with feelings of grief or loss by providing comfort. Working with pets offers a number of physical benefits as well which are especially beneficial to seniors. These include increasing physical activity and thus reducing joint stiffness and helping with maintaining motor skills and mobility.

4. Families Healing Through Therapy with Pets

Its estimated that more than 60% of households in the United States have pets and when reviewing the benefits of pet therapy it’s easy to see why. Pet therapy is effective in helping bring families together by easing communication through positive, nonjudgmental attention. Just as pet therapy can help build confidence in child and adult speech, so can it help facilitate familial communication and cooperation. When a pet is involved, all members of a family can work together to love and care for it. With pet therapy, each family member gets to spend time with a loving, relaxed companion and through that interaction can learn key skills such as compassion, empathy, and responsibility which can help improve family relationships. A pet’s ability to reduce anxiety, aggression, and depression can also reduce tension during family therapy sessions and thus help improve overall familial bonds through shared comfort.

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