In today’s entry, Julian Omidi discusses the positive impact therapy animals can have on individuals.
Animals can be a wonderful source of comfort and unconditional love for humans; this has inspired numerous, creative efforts over the years to involve them in therapy. One example of this is Walk and Talk, a counseling program in the U.K. that connects youth who struggle with anxiety to companion animals such as dogs or horses. Project manager Jessica Cotton points out that “animals live in the present moment and offer us non-judgmental, honest feedback in a way that humans often don’t. They teach us to be more aware of the connections between our mind, body and emotions.”
Although dogs are the most common therapy animals, different animals are better suited to specific types of helper roles. Here are the differences between the three types of support animals:
- Service dogs are individually trained to accompany and help someone who suffers from a disability, performing specific tasks to assist with everyday life. Service dog owners are allowed special exceptions to bring them with to most public places, such as hospitals or planes.
- Therapy animals visit health facilities to provide a source of comfort for the hospitalized. They are trained to behave calmly and there are many organizations that certify therapy animals.
- Emotional support animals help those with mental or physical illness, but their owners cannot take them with in as many public places as service dogs.
Animal therapy is proven to alleviate pain, depression, and anxiety in humans. It is also particularly beneficial for people in long-term care facilities, cancer victims, children having dental procedures, and veterans with PTSD.
Be good to each other,