Interacting with animals comes with several benefits for humans. Studies have demonstrated that animals reduce the body’s stress response, leading to reduced blood pressure and anxiety. Conventional therapy combined with an animal assisted therapy program, is very effective in substance abuse treatment. The animal therapy benefits include improving mindfulness, greater self-confidence and a stronger bond between the healthcare provider and the patient.
Animal Therapy Benefits
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, animal assisted therapy involves the use of companion animals like cats and dogs in therapy for motivation, education or recreation. The purpose is to improve physical, psychological and social well being of the human patient.
Animal assisted therapy is often misunderstood. It doesn’t mean simply having animals around. Instead, animal assisted therapy occurs in conjunction with Evidence Based Therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
How Does Animal Assisted Therapy Improve Patient Outcomes?
Animal Assisted Therapy serves to improve the outcome of evidence-based therapy by improving the alliance between the care providers and the patient and improving the patient’s regard for the care environment.
In addition, the animal assisted therapy also helps to reduce the patient’s anxiety. The cumulative effect is to improve the patient’s general adherence to their treatment program. Adherence to the treatment program improves the patient’s chances of successfully completing a drug addiction treatment program.
Dogs and cats are not the only animals used in Animal Assisted Therapy. Other animals include:
- Guinea Pigs
One way in which animal assisted therapy helps to reduce patient anxiety is the introduction of therapeutic touch. During intense counseling, patients may often benefit from a kind touch, such as a hug. However, this type of interaction isn’t appropriate in most therapist/patient relationships. Animal assisted therapy, however, provides an opportunity for the patient to initiate therapeutic touch without concern for disturbing the patient/therapist relationship. Other benefits of animal assisted therapy include:
- Increased sense of trust
- Reduced hostility
- Improved self-confidence
- Improved mood
Best Practices for Animal Assisted Therapy
Although there are many benefits of animal assisted therapy, it isn’t for everyone. Both the animal and the therapist must receive special training. In addition, Animal assisted therapy is not appropriate for patients with animal phobias.
Animal Assisted Therapy at The Willows
The Willows at Red Oak Recovery is an addiction treatment center for women located just outside of Asheville, North Carolina. We offer treatment for a variety of substance abuse issues, including alcohol, heroine, and opioids. The benefits of animal assisted therapy are part of our holistic approach to care. We offer animal assisted therapy in conjunction with our other therapy programs such as cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, and others.
Our treatment facility provides an intimate setting, serving no more than 20 women on our 38-acre facility. Our goal is to help you recover and set you up for post-treatment success. Call us today at 855.773.0614 to begin the recovery process immediately and learn about animal therapy benefits.