An Introduction to Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy

However, many aspects remained unclear, in particular regarding the type of intervention, safety, economic issues and diseases that would greatly benefit of these programs. Anyway, considering the intervention peculiarity, the reproducibility of randomized clinical trials could be difficult to achieve. Eight papers referred to pet therapy in pediatric hospitals (See Table 2) [8], [22], [23], [24], [25], [26], [27], [28].

Equine-related therapy

Many of our abilities to form healthy, adult relationships may stem from our first joyful experiences with pets. Household animals may be treasured pals with whom children can share secret thoughts, private moments and companionship during lonely or stressful times. Pets may help teach children the responsibilities of daily living, compassion for other creatures who share our planet, and the cycles of life and death. Animal-assisted therapy can help with many issues, including anxiety, depression, relationship problems, trauma and eating disorders. Airlines are no longer required to allow emotional support animals on flights.

Physiological effects

  1. Studies involving the use of therapy horses and dogs have shown that animal therapy might also help alleviate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  2. If you’re interested in trying animal-assisted therapy, having a conversation with a doctor or mental health specialist is a good place to start.
  3. Characteristics of the retrieved studies regarding animal interventions for adult inpatients with various illness (including orthopedic patients, and high-risk pregnancy).
  4. They start with someone who has a pet that they think would be suitable.
  5. Doctors or mental health specialists may recommend and administer animal therapy for various conditions, with different goals in mind for each person.

The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial relationship between people and animals that positively influences the health and well-being of both. Research, combined with human intuition, recognizes the impact the human-animal bond can have dandruff diagnosis and treatment on health. Animal-assisted therapy involves interacting with animals as well as a therapist to help you explore your feelings and experiences in a different way. During a medical procedure, people may have less anxiety if a pet is present.

What are the benefits of pet therapy?

In this case, the authors excluded immunocompromised patients, newborns and patients in post-anesthesia care units. Moreover, the authors registered overall positive evaluations of the nurses regarding the guidelines implementation [38]. The work of Jofrè et al. consisted in a review of guidelines, in order to achieve a consensus regarding animal use in healthcare settings.

An Introduction to Animal-Assisted Psychotherapy

Hospitals are particularly at risk settings, thus introducing animals has to be carefully considered. Various studies explored these risks outlining infections, allergies and animal accidents as major issues [16], [37], [38], [39], [40]. The potential risk of infections was outlined investigating the prevalence of infective agents in animals treatment national institute on drug abuse nida used for pet-visitation [17], [44]. These studies outlined the potential risk related not only to typical zoonosis, but also to common human infections as MRSA [17], [44]. However, reviews and guidelines suggested that the implementation of all security precautions could effectively minimize risks [16], [37], [38], [39], [40].

For these individuals, animal therapy with a dog could cause far more harm than good. While animal therapy may be helpful for people with certain health issues, it may not be right for everyone. This rigorous testing and certification ensures the safety and professionalism of everyone involved and helps give the person access to the best therapy sessions possible.

No matter where you are in your quest for better health, will meet you there. Finally, Hastings et al. investigated the use of a bi-weekly dog-visitation in a Burn Intensive Care Unit and a Burn Acute Care Unit [36]. In order to guarantee the security of these patients, all the Protection Equipment guidelines were respected.

Moreover, some programs required multiple sessions [6], [8], [11], [21], while others included only a single session [13], [34]. These important organizational differences make extremely difficult to compare the retrieved intervention, and to draw clear conclusions. Furthermore, not all the studies exactly described the alcohol withdrawal specific train and formation of the couple animal-therapist or handler. About this, some studies declared to adhere and follow the “Pet Partners Guidelines” [8], [19]. The AAT interventions resulted, in accordance to their definition, more structured, organized in limited groups and conducted by certified therapists.

Despite the wide range of outcomes considered, the studies retrieved outlined general benefits of AAT or AAA in terms of psychological and physical effects. The favorable effect of AAT upon anxiety symptoms on children was confirmed by parents and staff [8]. In conclusion, the favorable impact on inpatient anxiety seemed assessed for a wide range of age and conditions. Two reviews [37], [39] considered the potential risks of animal use in healthcare settings, considering infections, allergies and bites.

In rehabilitation, people may be more motivated to recover and practice their therapy when working with a pet. People who have sensory disabilities can sometimes communicate more easily with an animal. This encourages more interaction with healthcare providers and other people.

Animal interventions have been studied for different pathologies including mental disorders [4] and cancer [5]. In particular, some interventions focused on frail patients as elderly [6], [7] or children [5], [8]. Furthermore, AAT and AAA are implemented in different settings like hospitals, nursing homes and schools [4], [5]. The employment of Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) resulted increasingly popular, especially among pediatric patients. Chur-Hansen et al. conducted a critical review regarding AAI for children inpatients.

However, when the results of non-published trials were included in the analysis, antidepressants were found to be effective in only 51% of the studies. Pet therapy can help both children and adults with a variety of physical and mental issues. It can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and increase positivity and socialization. Talk to your doctor about more information on pet therapy and whether it’s suitable for you.

If you are interested in becoming an animal-assisted therapy facilitator please contact [email protected]. Therapists should have measures in place to ensure the animals’ welfare, such as only selecting suitable animals, in some cases giving them training, and ensuring they have opportunities to unwind and play after sessions. People who do not respond well to animal therapy or are not interested in trying it may ask about other options. It is important to note that a therapy dog is not the same as a service dog and does not have all of the same rights. For example, a therapy dog cannot accompany a handler into a business establishment.

Precisely, Khan et al. considered the AAA or AAT implementation in healthcare settings, especially in hospitals [37]. The second review focused specifically on the healthcare environment of Europe and North America [39]. The zoonosis can be a risk especially for very young, old or immunosuppressed patients [37], [39]. Not only zoonosis could be a risk, but also other common infections as MRSA. However, the application of hygiene protocols consented an effective risk minimization [39]. Moreover, the repeated health screenings for the animals and the careful selection of patients, using special precautions in case of open wounds and immunosuppression can help to control the risks [37].

Therapy animals support people with emotional and mental health challenges. They may also support people with physical health conditions in coping with those conditions’ emotional and mental components, or helping to reduce the amount of medication they take. Animal therapy, also called pet therapy or animal-assisted therapy, is any type of therapy that integrates dogs, horses, and other animals.


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