Animal as healers – Animal Assisted Therapy

“When I Look Into The Eyes Of An Animal I Do Not See An Animal. I See A Living Being. I See A Friend. I Feel A Soul.” ~ By  AD. Williams

Imagine being stuck in your thoughts. The general response to it will be anxiety, stress, or maybe depression. It sounds disheartening. But what if you suddenly hear a bark or meow?

Pets are healers. They help us cope with physical and mental health conditions. They reduce pain and provide comfort. Several therapists around the world take assistance from pets to aid people with their ill-health.

One such therapy is ‘Animal-Assisted Therapy’ (AAT) which means incorporating animals into therapy sessions. It is also known as Pet therapy. It can be used in individual as well as in group therapy sessions for people of every age group (children, adolescents, adults, and elderly).

Notable issues addressed by AAT:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. Autism Spectrum Disorder
  4. Schizophrenia
  5. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  6. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  7. Substance Abuse
  8. Developmental Disorders
  9. Behavioural difficulties
  10. Neurological disorders such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and etc.

It is not necessary to be an expert in animal language or have a pet. All it requires is acceptance and love. During the sessions, one eventually falls in love with them.

Animals commonly used in therapeutic setting:

  1. Dogs (most common in India)
  2. Dolphin
  3. Birds
  4. Guinea pigs

The Journal of Psychosomatic Research published a study in October 2000 on “Animal Assisted Therapy- Magic or medicine?” stated that the neurochemicals related to attention-seeking behavior had increased with the positive interaction of humans and animals.

It is believed that animals and humans form a natural bond. During the therapy, these animals act as “co-therapist”. There is no need to be scared of them as they are trained and vaccinated.

The reason behind animals being a part of the recovery process is that they emotionally engage, communicate and interact. They can read human facial expressions and understand pointing, verbal and visual communication.

Written by Deepti Khatkar

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