Animal Assisted Psychotherapy
Why work with animals during treatment?
Research shows that animals can reduce physiological and psychological stress signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure, which allows clients to feel calmer and less anxious during sessions and thus more able to engage in therapy. Animals are empathic, nonjudgmental, affectionate and give unconditional positive regard, which enables a client to feel welcome, accepted and comforted in session. Session with an animal can also be fun and energizing, which may be a welcome change for clients who have previously had unsuccessful therapeutic experiences.
Animal assisted psychotherapy is unique in its ability to combine thinking, feeling and behaving within one intervention. Working with the animals is a hands-on, experiential exercise and clients no longer just talk about their issues but are engaged in activities.