In short about pet therapy in how to deal with it
Animals are part of our environment; they can be our friends, but also excellent therapists. It is known that pet owners are healthier and more vital, and they enjoy life more than people who do not have this kind of company. Therefore, psychologists and doctors recommend some animals because of their therapeutic effect on human health. This healing method is popular in many countries around the world and has proven to be very effective in treating mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
The first step in this therapy is choosing the right animal. This primarily refers to the type of animal, which then has to pass numerous training and health checks. As the most widespread pets, cats and dogs are most often used for this purpose. In fewer cases, birds, guinea pigs, rabbits or horses can be a good solution. The choice depends on the type of therapy, the disease, and the patient’s preferences.
Dogs in pet therapy
Dogs are especially suggested for people who are prone to depression and anxiety behavior. Therapists often recommended dogs for the treatment of psychiatric diseases in kids and teenagers. Many studies show that children who spend time with animals develop better social skills than those without pets. Also, they are more active and have a higher level of emotional intelligence.
Cats in pet therapy
Cats are very charming animals. It has been proven that their purr has a positive effect on human health by reducing stress and tension. In patients who spend some time cuddling the cat, blood pressure is lowered because this kind of human-pet intimacy works as a sedative and normalizes the pulse. The most common cause of hypertension is precisely the tension. In patients with anxiety disorder diagnosis, even the smallest stress can cause a panic attack. In these situations, a cat’s purr releases vibrations that act calming. The presence of cats greatly helps in psychotherapy, especially in people suffering from depression.
There’s no unique way to deal with the pet therapy. Below, you’ll find five advices how to manage this kind of treatment.
1. Pet visitation
Animal visitation is the basic form of the pet therapy. The curing process is carried out by the handler who trains animal to initiate contact with the patient. The further course of healing will depend on the patient’s reaction. This therapy is specially implemented in hospitalized cases.
In people suffering from depression and anxiety, being away from home means they have to leave their comfort zone. The presence of an animal reduces their loneliness and makes them feel loved again. Only pets can give unconditional love and loyalty. A presence of the therapy animal can motivate patients, make their day and help them in re-establishing connection with the world.
2. Animals as an stress relief
Well-tempered and socialized animals are used in Animal-Assisted Therapy. This is an advanced form of the previously described therapy. The healing process is carried out by stimulating the patient to interact with the pet. It usually starts with cuddling, as an introducing and connecting with the animal.
Then, therapists initiate “deepening” the contact so the patient can play with the animal or, in some way, take care of it. Petting of cats and dogs is recommended for people suffering from psychosis. This condition can happen due to numerous external factors, but also if there is a disorder in the production of “the happiness hormone.” Animals feel your joy, and they return in the same way. Petting an animal can affect the level of this neurotransmitter in the brain, whose dysfunction can lead to depression or anxiety.
3. Pets included in your everyday activities
People with anxiety and depression often avoid contact with the outside world. The constant fear and concern hold them to establish regular contacts with others. These feelings also disturb people in performing everyday activities.
Sometimes, even going to the bank to pay bills can be a problem. The presence of a trained pet in such situations is of great importance. For example, if a sudden panic attack occurs in a public place, the service dog is there to react and prevent possible consequences.
Trained pets are there to be a great company, but also to help you understand your purpose. The feeling that you need to take care of someone makes you feel valuable, loved and motivated. Your pet will not rebuke and judge you. They are here to give you support and make you go forward. As a true friend.
4. Pet therapy can help with improving social skills
People with mental disorders such as depression or anxiety over time lost empathy and emotion towards others. Such behavior affects the loss of social skills. Patients most often don’t feel comfortable in the presence of other people, because they have the inferiority complex. They just think they aren’t good enough for something or someone. Pets as emotional support are a great way to regain empathy and enjoyment in other people’s company.
However, not all people are eligible to be pet owners, nor everyone has conditions for it. Depending on whether emotional support animal is yours or the therapy is conducted under the supervision of a trained handler, there are various ways how animals can help you in socializing.
One way is to allow people to approach you. For example, it has been proven that dogs can perceive positive and negative vibrations in humans. So, be assured that your dog will not allow someone who has bad intentions to get close to you. The other ways are organized meet-and-greets, where a patient can meet people and their pets. When you realize that you are not lonely, it will be much easier for you to get through the healing process.
5. Pet therapy in kids
Parents often ignore the fact that kids are prone to depression and anxiety too. Changing the environment, going to school or college, or some traumatic event, are all triggers for the development of mental illness. Children don’t have developed mechanism for a stress reaction.
The fact is that kids, in general, love animals. Dog, cat, horse, guinea pig or some other pet, they do not care. The role of a pet in early age is very significant. In addition to feeling what endless love means, children will build their own routine and behavior pattern. The obligations they will have around the pet can help them in socializing, acquiring working habits, and teaching them how to cope with stress in later life.
Pet therapy should be conducted under the supervision of a doctor. In case you don’t have a pet, or the one you have is not capable of being a therapy animal, a trained handler will be there for you. Depending on the treatment you are prescribed, the handler will spend some time with you. It is necessary for mutual safety and fast adaptation. People who are training pets for therapeutic purposes are mostly their owners or qualified volunteers.