Animal Assisted Therapy

Drug rehab is not exactly the happiest time in a person’s life. By the time they’ve reached rehab, many addicts are recovering from the damage caused by prolonged substance abuse, such as health problems, financial straits, legal issues, relationship problems, and career damage. For this reason, addiction treatment represents rock bottom for many patients. At times, people in rehab can feel like they have so little to laugh or smile about. That’s where the unconditional love, support, trust, and acceptance of therapy dogs become so crucial in recovery. Below, our mental health and addiction recovery center shares more about the benefits of animal-assisted therapy.  

What Is Animal-Assisted Therapy?

A simple lick from a dog can light up a person’s day. The joyous way a dog greets you can make a person feel more loved and appreciated than ever. This is what the canine-assisted therapy program at Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches is based on. Our dog therapy gives patients a chance to enjoy instant joy, laughter, and happiness while going through treatment. 

Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a therapeutic technique that involves the use of animals to enhance a person’s physical, emotional, and social well-being. AAT typically involves a trained and certified therapist or counselor who works with a trained animal, such as a dog, cat, or horse. The animal used in AAT generally depends on the patient’s needs. 

These therapy animals are trained to provide a sense of comfort, support, and companionship to patients undergoing addiction or mental health treatment. An animal therapy program can also help individuals who are recovering from physical injuries or illnesses by motivating them to engage in physical activity and providing a source of encouragement. 

Addiction and mental health recovery can be an uphill battle, with many patients dealing with separation from their homes, friends, and family members during rehab. These individuals are also trying to combat cravings, depression, anxiety, and withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, many patients are exploring family history, reliving difficult, traumatic experiences, and dealing with psychological disorders. 

The beauty of working with therapy animals is that they aren’t capable of judgment. They will accept you as you are, and they don’t care about mistakes you’ve made in the past. It’s this type of blind love that makes a person feel good about themselves in treatment. For precious moments at a time, our loving therapy dogs make patients forget about their addiction difficulties and any other problems going on in their lives.

Benefits of Therapy With Animals for Addiction & Mental Illness

Animal therapy, specifically canine-assisted therapy, has been shown to offer a range of benefits for people who are recovering from addiction and mental health problems. Some of these benefits include: 

  • Enhanced physical health: Interacting with a therapy dog can encourage physical activity and provide a source of motivation and encouragement to participants in rehab.
  • Improved mood and self-esteem: Spending time with a therapy dog can improve self-esteem and provide a sense of companionship and unconditional love, which can make individuals recovering from substance abuse or mental illness feel happier and more positive.
  • Increased socialization and communication: Therapy dogs can provide a non-judgmental presence that can help individuals in recovery feel more comfortable and confident in themselves. This can lead to increased communication skills and improved socialization.
  • Reduced loneliness and isolation: Many individuals with substance use and mental health problems struggle with isolation and loneliness. Therapy dogs can provide a sense of companionship and reduce these feelings.
  • Reduced stress and anxiety: Interacting with a therapy dog can lower levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, and increase the release of feel-good hormones, such as oxytocin and dopamine. This can further contribute to patients’ time in rehab as well as their long-term recovery.
  • Increased sense of accountability and responsibility: Patients in our animal-assisted therapy program also have the opportunity to care for our dogs, contributing to a sense of responsibility and accountability. 

Overall, dog therapy can be an effective complementary therapy program for individuals recovering from substance abuse or mental illness, providing a range of physical, emotional, and social benefits. 

Finding Animal-Assisted Therapy Near Me

While it would seem like common knowledge that a dog’s affection can improve mood and help people cope with difficult times, this theory has actually been proven by medical and mental health professionals. The practice of using animal-assisted therapy can be traced back in some form to ancient civilizations. 

Sigmund Freud, famous for being the founder of psychoanalysis, reportedly used his dog, Jofi, during therapy sessions with patients. Freud thought that dogs had a natural ability to empathize with people and understand their state of mind. 

He saw that the presence of his dog in therapy relaxed patients and made them open up more. Since then, therapy dogs have been used in a wide range of areas – including in hospitals, nursing homes, or any place where people are in need of healing.

Our inpatient drug rehab center would not be the same without our lovely therapy dogs. They are part of what makes us a different kind of rehab center, focused on making patients feel good, happy, and encouraged on their way to recovery. Contact Affordable Addiction Treatment today to learn more about our canine-assisted therapy or any of our chemical dependency treatment programs.

For more information call us at 866-559-2228