What Counselors Say About Animal-Assisted Therapy


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The connection between animals and people is formidable, and the constructive link between mental health and pets is undisputable. Adults, adolescents, children, and the elderly all find happiness in their pets. Thus, mental health and pets go together.

Additionally, research has proven the benefits of pets for improving one’s mental health. Numerous scientific researches have recognized the benefits of having a dog, cat, or even a hamster. Animals indeed help with anxiety, stress, and depression. Furthermore, they offer company and alleviate loneliness. Finally, pets add delight and absolute love.

Animal-Assisted Therapy

Experts have learned a lot more regarding the link between mental health and pets for the past years. Because of this, animal-assisted therapy plans have become a significant aspect of mental health management. Also, people benefit from having mental health pets, like an emotional support dog.

During the 90s, mental health programs for teenagers have integrated equine therapy. This type of therapy dynamically utilizes horses in their treatments. The horse-human bond permits teenagers to express their issues and emotions. They do this by using an effective and personal knowledge of nonverbal communication.   But we can take advantage of pet therapy daily in the comfort of our own homes.

Below are some counselor-approved ways that our pets can support mental health.

Mental Health And Pets: Alleviating Stress

Interacting with a kind and loving dog decreases one’s cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone. Having a pet also causes a surge of oxytocin, which is another chemical that decreases stress. This is why animal-assisted therapy is so effective. Moreover, the act of touching a pet decreases blood pressure. Hence, it lowers stress. Subsequently, studies have revealed that dogs can tremendously assist in pacifying aggressive and hyperactive kids.

Pets Make Us Feel Important

We feel more important and wanted when we own a pet. The simple act of taking care of a pet has great mental health benefits. Taking care of another living being provides us with a sense of meaning and commitment.

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Additionally, even if your pets do not mingle so much with their owners, this is a fact. In a previous study on mental health and animals, seniors were given hamsters to care for. Researchers kept track of their moods for more than two months. Also, they compared the participants of the study and a group who did not care for pets. Consequently, the participants assigned to care for the hamsters were less anxious and depressed after two weeks than those outside of the control group. Thus, researchers validated that taking care of a living being yielded mental health benefits.

Mingling and Caring For Pets Reduces Stress Hormones

Research around mental health and pets revealed that playing and interacting with animals significantly lowers stress hormones. These benefits can happen just after a few minutes of mingling with a pet. So pets are indeed very beneficial for depression sufferers.

Playing with a pet like a cat or a dog increases one’s dopamine and serotonin levels. These two hormones pacify and calm the nervous system. When you laugh or smile at your pet’s loving gestures, you are already activating your happy hormones.

Pets Help Prevent Childhood Anxiety

A pet can protect kids from anxiety, states a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study was performed on 640 kids, half of which took care of pets at home. The researchers gauged their physical activity, anxiety levels, screen time, BMI, or body mass index. At the end of the study, it was found that all the kids had the same BMIs, physical activity, and screen time, regardless if they had pets or not. However, they had differing anxiety levels. More than 20% of the kids who had no pet dogs were positive for anxiety in their screening tests, and only 12% of those who had pets experienced anxiety.

Thus, pets obviously produce a positive impact on childhood anxiety and stress. Consequently, kids who grow up with pet dogs or cats have a higher likelihood of becoming healthy and joyful teenagers.

Pets Improve One’s Well-Being And Self-Confidence

At present, Miami and Saint Louis University psychologists performed several experiments around the advantages of having pets at home. Subsequently, the results revealed that owners of pets had alleviated their well-being in various aspects, including improved physical fitness, decreased loneliness and misery, increased self-confidence, improved social skills, and less fear and anxiety.

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Dogs And Cats Are Good Models Of Being In The Present

Animals thrive at the moment. This means that they do not stress over what occurred yesterday. Also, they are not scared about what could happen in the future.

As a consequence, pets can aid individuals in becoming more attentive. Mindfulness is the mental process of focusing on the present. Thus, they significantly help adolescents and teenagers appreciate and seize the present moments. Additionally, pets are a great distraction for teens from the things that bother them. Finally, spending time with pets helps kids of all ages to be more lighthearted and playful.




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