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The Flourishing World Of Animal Assisted Therapy

3019 words - 13 pages

Animals are interesting creatures. Animals, like humans, have unique personalities and abilities. Cody is one such dog that can make people relax. He is not a certified therapy animal, but you would not know it. Lillie, a Chihuahua was attacked by a pit bull while on a walk with her owner. Apparently, the pit bull was only warning her to stay out of his territory because she only received a puncture to her right ear. However, the mental damage was far worse. Lillie began to go into shock. Lillie’s owner ran home with her in her arms and contacted a friend. The friend rushed over, bringing his dog, Cody. Cody is a golden retriever and like most retrievers he is very social and can ...view middle of the document...

Additional research needs to be conducted on mental and physical health benefits of animal-assisted therapy; however, it is quickly becoming a popular choice of therapy professionals. According to the handbook on Animal-Assisted Therapy: Theoretical Foundations and guidelines for Practice (2nd edition) (Fine, 2006), there has been research proving the positive outcomes of animal therapy. However, despite the amount of research, there is a need for additional studies showing the effects of this type of therapy over time and if it continues to benefit those individuals who participate. The benefits of animal companionship can lower blood pressure, decreased depression, and anxiety. A study was conducted by, Friedmann, Katcher, Thomas, Lynch, and Messent (1983), which took measurements of blood pressure in twenty-six children upon seeing a dog enter the room, however; the children did not have physical contact with the animal. The outcome of the study showed that the interaction of merely seeing an animal decreased anxiety and blood pressure.
Consequently, people with physical illnesses are not the only individuals who benefit from animal assisted therapy. Adolescents who have mental disorders can become more receptive to therapy when an animal is present. Adolescent positive response to animal assisted therapy is due to a reduction in anxiety, which serves as a catalyst for learning and can be a source of comfort for the adolescent (Jackson, 2012). Humans who have psychological problems may have a better connection with a therapy dog as opposed to another person. During a therapy a session a psychiatrist may get more response when a therapy animal is present because it will calm the patient and make psychological therapy more effective. The aging process can be quite difficult for individuals, and when memory becomes affected, this can compound the problem. An elderly person may recall memories of a special pet and experience less depression after thinking about a happier time in their life. Pet therapy is a way to comfort the elderly with memory illnesses. People who are experiencing memory loss and cognitive impairment will often identify with a therapy animal because it reminds them of a past beloved pet (Roth, 2012). A study was conducted on the effects of therapy animals on individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. The unfortunate side effect of Alzheimer’s disease is a loss of appetite and a reduction in weight. This study showed that by the simple act of watching fish swim in a tank placed in the dining room during dinner, the patients had an increase in appetite and began to gain weight. The patients stayed in the cafeteria longer than normal, which contributed to eating more. The study took place over sixteen weeks, and the majority had gained a one or two pounds by the conclusion of the period. One would not think of fish being therapy animals, but this study has proven that people can benefit from not just dogs or...

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