Animal Assisted Therapy

mental health stress management team blog
Animal Assisted Therapy

I have always been an animal lover. Living with my mom in Montana, I grew up having furry friends around all the time. We had cats, dogs, chickens, horses, cows and at one point we had a couple goats. I would bring cats home after playing around our neighborhood, my mom only letting me keep the first one I brought home, any others we had to take to our local humane society.

My dad’s house in Colorado, however, didn’t always have animals, and my brother and I were always with him over the summer months. I would struggle emotionally when I didn’t have an animal to take care of. I would be more depressed, my anxiety would always increase, and I’d just have a harder time in my day-to-day activities. My dad finally realized that I needed an animal in my life. So, I got to go down to the humane society and adopt an adorable long-haired calico cat, I named her fluffy. After I had fluffy my behavior changed drastically. I became more energized, I stopped having high anxiety and I was much less depressed. My dad also noticed that my self-care, social interactions, and behavior management improved as well. 

Animal assisted therapy is when animals are used in goal directed treatment for physical, emotional, mental or social therapy.

As an adult, I was really interested in what other ways pets could be therapeutic for children and adults. In my research I was so surprised. There was one article I found that studied the relationship between patients recovering from surgery who interacted with therapy animals vs. patients that didn’t have any contact with therapy animals. They found that animal assisted therapy decreases pain from their surgery and decreases stress from be hospitalized. Animal assisted therapy seemed to help patients tremendously in their overall recovery and were able to be discharged much earlier than those who did not participate in the animal assisted therapy.

This is one of many examples in which animals can help us humans live happier, healthier lives. They are also known to help people with autism, various mental illnesses and even health problems such as heart disease, cancer, and dementia. 

Moral of the story, if you’re someone like me who struggles with depression and anxiety, having animals in your life can help you live a happier, healthier life. This is why, as soon as I became an adult and moved into my own apartment, I adopted my first pup, Chewbacca! Now, I have three dogs and two cats, and I couldn’t be happier with all the love and cuddles!


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