Good news for per-lovers is that pets can now help in boosting mental health, but not all pets. They have to be specially trained and handled by animal handlers. That is pet therapy in brief. It is also known as Animal-assisted therapy (AAT).It helps in boosting physical, social and emotional functions. Depending upon specific needs, patients are to perform activities like walking, grooming, and looking after. You can get mental health therapy at hospitals, treatment centers or care-homes.
Symptoms of Mental health & Pets
Mental health may have symptoms of depression, behavioral and emotional disorders, dementia, substance abuse, and autism. These symptoms usually lead to abnormal and irrational actions. If the pets are trained in a scientific manner, they won’t react to human behavior negatively. Rather, patients can interact with them, freely, without any fear of being disliked or condemned. As a result, patients boost their self-esteem, get relief from mental stress, and rejuvenate their mood.
In general, pet therapists use cats and dogs because they adapt to human beings quickly and closely. In certain cases, they use horses, pigs, fish, and other animals if they meet the screening criteria and therapeutic goals. However, an animal handler works as an intermediary between the patients and the selected animal.
- Improvement of motor skills and movements of joints
- Enhancing self-esteem
- Improvement in independent and assisted movements
- Development of the skills for socialization
- Improving the ability of verbal communication, unambiguously and clearly
- The motivation for participating in physical, mental and social activities
- Improvement in personal interaction with others, without fear, hesitation or apprehension
- Breaking the monotony and mitigating boredom
- Reduction the feelings of isolation by getting a mute a companion
- Shunning the negative thoughts and looking into the positive aspects of life and acquiring optimism
- Acquiring the skills of poise and calmness at times of adversities
- Infusing the skills of nurturing and empathy for others
- Calming down the feeling of aggressiveness and mitigating the sense of insecurity and inferiority complex.
- Improving the sense of mutual trust and co-existence
Prospects for adopting Pet Therapy
- Those undergoing chemotherapy
- Inmates of long-term health care facilities
- People hospitalized with acute cardiac complications
- Those hospitalized in the post-traumatic center for a long time
- Children undergoing long-term physical and dental issues
- People undergoing physical therapy for regaining their motor skills
- Victims of multiple strokes
- Those are suffering from schizophrenia and mental health disorders.
- Those with sensory disabilities and poor communicating abilities
- Being in close contact with animals, the major threats are sanitation and physical safety
- If the animal handlers are not properly trained, evaluated, and experienced
- Human injuries if unsuitable animals are used
- Chances of getting adhered to or becoming possessive to the animal helping them. Such eventualities may lead to further depression or lowering down of self-esteem
Many organizations train and link owners and pets with service providers of pet therapy which could be administered through the following steps
- Selection of a suitable animal
- Examination of the animal with respect to immunization possibilities of diseases
- Adhering to certain guidelines that are imparted during the training for ensuring animal control
- Evaluation of the temperament of the animal and its behavior with the handler
- Certification from the organization, sponsoring the training course
Although the name sounds a little unusual and unfamiliar, pet therapy has a multitude of benefits; particularly related to mental health. However, success is dependent on setting realistic and achievable goals and the time period. The therapist observes your progressive improvement, compared to the set goals. They may change the goals in case of any deviation. This therapy can help in reducing depression, anxiety and increasing socialization and positivity. If you are suffering from any of these mental health issues, you can find some great therapists at BetterHelp.com.