Animal Assisted Therapy

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Animals have been constant companions, workers, and protectors at the side of humans for as long as anyone can remember. Horses help with travel, cats help keep mice out of the house, and dogs help herd cattle. However, the bond that can develop between four-legged animals and humans can be even more valuable than just helping get work done. A soldier coming home from war or a child scared to make friends can find solace and warmth in a special bond developed with animals through animal-assisted therapy. Animal-assisted therapy are therapy programs that involve using trained animals as a form of treatment to enhance an individual's physical, emotional and social well-being, thus improving self-esteem, reducing anxiety and facilitating healing ( source 1).

Animal-assisted therapy was first introduced in 1792 at a mental institute in England. From then on, many other institutes began experimenting with the therapy program to help treat certain disorders and in rehabilitation programs as some institutes. It was first introduced into programs in the United States in 1944 and since then has been growing in popularity as an effective way to aid in treatments (PDF 2). However, even with growing popularity, not much research has been done to conclusively confirm the measurable results and benefits of animal-assisted therapy. Through the research that has been conducted, it has, thus far, leaned to animal-assisted therapy being a reasonable and beneficial option for therapy.

Along with helping soldiers recover from post-traumatic stress and aiding in children becoming more confident, animal-assisted therapy also helps treat a variety of other health problems and mental disorders as well. For children, animals can take the role of bec...

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... of certain health problems and disorders is the basis on which animal-assisted therapy is built. Research has shown that pet ownership is beneficial to both the pet and owner. In the research, pet ownership has a relationship to cardiovascular health, a strengthened immune system, and a decrease in blood pressure and cholesterol levels (PDF 3). Studies have also shown that a constant animal companion lowers anxiety. By drawing attention outside, by having patients focus on the animals, anxiety, depression, pain, and anger can be mitigated.

References:

1. Weil, Andrew, M.D. "Wellness Therapies." Animal Assisted Therapy. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2014. .

2. Uyemura, Brandi. "The Truth About Animal-Assisted Therapy | Psych Central." Psych Central.com. Psych Central, 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
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