Animal-assisted therapy is being used in a wide variety of settings to help people with acute and chronic illnesses. This is based on the many physical and psychological benefits seen in patients when they interact with animals. These include lowered blood pressure and heart rate, increased beta-endorphin levels (a hormone produced by the brain and nervous system that reduces pain), decreased stress levels, reduced feelings of anger, hostility, tension and anxiety, improved social functioning, and increased feelings of empowerment, trust, patience and self-esteem. Animal therapy is looked upon as both a learning and healing experience.
Pet Partners is a leading international resource for the human-animal bond and its relationship to improving human health. Their web site provides information on animal-assisted therapy, a wide variety of articles on the health benefits for different groups of people, volunteer opportunities and training information.
Therapet Animal Assisted Therapy Foundation
This non-profit organization works to facilitate the use of animals in the healing and rehabilitation of acute and chronically ill individuals. The web site discusses the nature and benefits of animal-assisted therapy, their training programs and seminars, and books and videos on the topic.
Equine-assisted therapy at
addiction treatment center
Equine-assisted therapy has been around for a long time. It was originally started as a therapy for people with physical disabilities and developmental disorders and has been successfully used as part of the treatment for various psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders as well. People recovering from addiction have also been found to benefit from interactions with horses. This type of outdoor therapy experience combines the power of nature with the benefit of forming a relationship with an animal to help build confidence, trust, patience, and self-esteem.