How Companion Animals Can Benefit Mental Health
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is the practice of integrating pets into healthcare, and it has long been recognized as an effective way to assist those living with chronic illness. AAT may be beneficial for individuals suffering from anxiety, PTSD or stress as well as those suffering from medical conditions.
Pets provide emotional support, reduce stress and foster empathy within families. Not only that, but they provide comfort, companionship and socialization as well.
Dogs are frequently employed as an animal-assisted therapy in hospitals and other healthcare settings, helping patients feel less anxious. For instance, having a canine present during physical examinations may reduce children’s levels of stress and fear significantly.
Additionally, dogs can help children with ADHD gain insight into their own emotions and behaviors; they also boost self-esteem in individuals with autism or other neurological disorders. Furthermore, dogs reduce stress for people suffering from PTSD by being a distraction.
Therapy animals have been observed to improve patients’ psychotherapy sessions by decreasing self-reported anxiety and distress, helping them feel more at ease during counseling. They have even been known to enhance other forms of therapies like acupuncture or art therapy.
Research on dogs in hospitals has demonstrated that their presence can improve mood and cognitive performance for children undergoing brain surgery. Furthermore, research on hospital dogs demonstrates how canine companionship helps patients better cope with stress and pain.
Companion animals are an integral part of many mental health programs, and their presence in schools can have a beneficial effect on students’ wellbeing. For instance, schools in Minnesota have begun integrating therapy and service dogs into their curriculum to boost students’ academic and social skills as well as reduce stress levels.
Colleges across America are also utilizing animals to support students’ mental health. For instance, the Higher Education Mental Health Alliance has released a guide for administrators that explains the role of therapy animals and provides strategies on managing their logistics.
It is no shock that an increasing number of people are choosing to own pets, and these relationships can have a major effect on health. Studies show that those with pet ownership experience lower rates of cardiovascular disease, live longer lives, and are generally happier in life than those without pets.
Researchers have researched the therapeutic effects of human-animal interactions on humans, finding that these encounters can reduce stress and depression, stimulate oxytocin production, and boost self-esteem. Indeed, animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has been found to be a viable alternative to group therapy sessions.