Pets as Prescription: The Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy

Reading Time: 4 minutes

animal assisted therapyEver hear the term pets as prescription? Well, over the last decade more and more mental health professionals are beginning to see the many benefits of animal assisted therapy for people. But, what is animal-assisted therapy and how is it different from getting an emotional support animal? And—most importantly—which one is right for you?

What is Animal Assisted Therapy?

So what exactly is involved in this therapy? Animal-assisted therapy uses the aid of animals to improve emotional, physical or mental wellbeing.

Some therapists will use this as their primary form of treatment with clients and it has worked wonders all across America!

People suffering from the likes of anxiety, depression, PTSD and even mood disorders have all seen benefits associated with AAT.  With the simple touch of animal companionship, comfort and unconditional love, people are on a healthy road of recovery!

Mental illness can affect all types of people in many different ways. However, pet therapy can also help those suffering from a mental illness secondary to their situation.

For example, cancer patients that spend weeks on end in a hospital bed may develop severe boredom or loneliness sending them into a state of acute depression.

An animal can often break their days with a much-appreciated form of distraction, enough to keep them content! Or even children receiving dental procedures, pets can be a great distraction here too!

Animals have massive benefits! Whether you’re a sufferer of social anxiety, severe depression or even just stuck in a hospital bed for weeks on end, assisted-animal therapy is always an appropriate option!

Suffering from Mental Illness? Consider Getting an Emotional Support Animal

The health benefits of owning a pet are inarguable. You can ask almost anyone about their pet and their face will immediately brighten up.

Often providing a sub-conscious level of comfort, companionship, and security, and to those suffering from mental illness, an emotional support animal can be a massive factor in their recovery!

ESAs are the silver-lining for many mental illness sufferers, that’s why CertaPet is dedicated to providing all the in and outs to this therapy. Take the free, 5-minute pre-screening to see if you qualify.

Here’s What You Need to Know About Therapy Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Therapy animals and emotional support animals can both provide a world of good to those in need. Therapy animals are typically offered by those therapist who specialize in this kind of treatment. Though, anyone can have an emotional support animal of their own!

Most people assume an ESA needs specific training or guidance, but thats not true! An emotional support animal can be any type of animal, as long as it provides a sense of comfort and support to their owner. This is true for most pets! The difference is when you make your pet an official ESA there are some awesome benefits! These include some housing benefits, air-travel benefits and even some university benefits!

The People Behind Pets as Prescription: What is an Animal Assisted Therapist?

An animal-assisted therapist is a professional in either the mental or physical health field. These therapists will use direct animal therapy as part of their treatment plans for patients.

These therapists are trained to carefully integrate animals into their sessions with clients. The animals help put clients at ease,  provide physical contact and affection and often give a good incentive for clients to turn up!

Animal-Assisted Therapy Certification

Not just anyone can work as an animal-assisted therapist! There are various qualifications which can allow you to practice as an AAT. Some are awarded from animal behavioural schools, others are animal and human health based and some require a set amount of practical work.

But the key point here is any given AAT will have some sort of working qualification you can trust!

The First Pup: History of Animal-Assisted Therapy

Animal therapy dates back to the middle ages! In Belgium, pets and people were rehabilitated together where pets provided emotional therapy for the people. From there, benefits were seen in the recovering patients and animal therapy began to grow rapidly!

From Dogs to Miniature Ponies: There are Many Types of Animals who Help Therapeutically

When you hear of pet therapy most people immediately think of dogs and cats, but thats not all there is! All sorts of animals can be used for therapy, from ponies to pigs to puppies, there’s very few boundaries!

The type of animal doesn’t matter too much, as long as it brings a therapeutic element to patients, its a go!

10 Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy for People Struggling Every day!

  1. People suffering from depression typically struggle to find something to smile about in their day. But who can hold back a smile when they are getting cuddles from a puppy or pats for a pony!
  2. The comfort provided by the presence of animals can even lower blood pressure! This reflects the decreased stress in patients which may find therapy lessons to be out of their comfort zone.
  3. The flow on effect of reducing blood pressure in stress-prone patients is cardiac health! By lowering blood pressure we see decreased risks of heart attacks and related heart problems.
  4. By reducing the general stress in a patient, even if its just for a short period, can help the body produce specific neurotransmitters and hormones. These help in emotional and physical stability, as well as overall health!
  5. Its a non-medical therapy! I know this may seem silly to bring up, but its actually an important factor of this type of therapy. Many people develop anxiety at the site of needles or a hospital setting, so the fact that these animals can come to universities and even homes is essential!
  6. The animals love it just as much as the patients! Thats right, they love the attention. Almost every dog loves a belly scratch, and we all love giving them! There’s no paid labour or unhappy animals, the benefits work two ways.
  7. After a visit by a therapy animal, patients are typically more optimistic and much easier to work with! This leaves therapists in a better position for treatment plans and strategies.
  8. Animals help with loneliness! Its may not seem a big issue, but loneliness is usually a gateway issue for further mental illnesses.
  9. Its not too expensive! Considering the effects it has on your overall health, animal therapy is a small price to pay. In hospitals, therapy animals are often free too!
  10. Some therapy animals even visit prisons where people suffering from all sorts of illness can reap the benefits too!

The Positive Effects: Animal-Assisted Therapy Research

The positive effects of animal-assisted Therapy  are endless! The health improvements alone are enough to warrant their worth. With lower stress levels seen in those patients seeing therapy pets, there’s associated lower blood pressures and improved heart health. This lowers risk of heart disease, heart attack, strokes and of course emotional wellness. As well as the health benefits, theres also the increased cooperative nature seen in the patients too. This helps  therapists in their treatment plans and increases the overall efficacy of treatment.

3 Conditions Animal-Assisted Therapy Can Help People with!

  1. Emotional illness- this includes chronic depression, anger issues and PTSD disorders. The list goes on, but regardless of the of the specific illness, therapy animals have been seen to have benefits across the boards.
  2. Medical Conditions- Those with cancer, or prolonged medical conditions causing their stay in a hospital beds longer for far longer than anticipated! Animals here help with avoiding hospital-induced mental instability.
  3. Behavioural conditions- this includes those individuals suffering from ADHD, conduct disorders or anger managements. By having an animal companion, these behavioural issues are often diffused.

Best Therapy Dogs for People with PTSD and Mental Illness

When fighting something as fierce as mental illness, the biggest factor in recovery can be finding the right companion! What better companion than the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, once nick-named the ‘love sponge’! Known for its ever so cuddly nature these pooches have a lot of love to give. With their relentless affection, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels can be life changing to people suffering from PTSD and alike mental illnesses. Not far behind this breed for their love and affection is the Labrador, the Golden Retriever and poodles too!

 5 Facts You Need to Know About Animal Assisted Therapy

  1. Its nothing new! The history for this sort of treatment dates back to the middle ages.
  2. The types of animals can surprise you! Did you know there is such thing as a therapy pig?!
  3. Its good for not just our minds but our bodies too!
  4. They can help teach children values and respect for animals.
  5. This type of therapy can keep you calm and hence keep you much safer.

Do You Think Animal Therapy Can Help You Out? Talk to Your Therapist Today

Animal assisted therapy is all about bettering ones life. Today, research has shown that dogs, cats, pigs, and even rabbits can all have a positive affect on our well-being. So, if you’re not sure on weather or not an animal assisted therapy will benefit you, then make sure you talk to your therapist.

All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.