We always heard of psychotherapy but pet therapy becomes more popular nowadays. It’s not the therapy for your pet – but a new phenomenon of therapy for humans, which involves animals.
Pet therapy is animal-assisted which also includes a trained human professional. These are beneficial to people of all ages, leading to reduced physiological responses to stress – such as heart rate – and associated emotions, such as anxiety.
Partnerships with pets are a widely accepted fact that people of all ages can benefit from. From the special bond to companionship and improved mental health, there is no doubt that cats, dogs, and other pets enhance our lives immeasurably.
Over the last ten years or so, animals have started to help humans in settings away from the home – such as hospitals and care homes for the elderly, as well as universities, prisons, and rehabilitation services.
A recent study investigate whether canine therapy had any impact on the well-being of patients – the majority (around 70%) were experiencing pain. They each received a ten-minute visit from a St John Ambulance therapy dog in addition to the usual hospital care.
Using a detailed psychometric survey, the researchers assessed patients. They were encouraged to find that the patients reported a significant reduction in pain, anxiety, and depression following the visit by the therapy dog – and an increase in general wellbeing.
Cats have also joined the AAI movement – and have been used in settings such as schools and care homes to improve wellbeing. Just being in the presence of a cat has been shown to improve mood and reduce feelings of loneliness.
Playing with a cat, and physical contact through stroking and hugging can induce a sense of calm, especially for children and frail elderly patients in long-term care.
In fact, even a cat’s purr can bring emotional relief, especially when we’re feeling stressed.
Have you tried pet therapy? How was the experience?