Animal Assisted Therapy
There is increasing evidence that shows that incorporating animals into psychotherapy treatment improves symptoms of anxiety and depression, and helps people coping with trauma.
I began an Animal-Assisted Therapy program at New York University, and I am trained in animal-assisted therapy interventions.
I have organized animal therapy teams to work with individuals in hospitals and nursing homes, and have witnessed people experience lowered blood pressure, alleviated anxiety symptoms, and increased positive mood when paired with an animal.
Animal assisted therapy became more well known in the early 1990s, and it is now widely accepted as a form of mental health treatment. However, animals have had positive effects on people before studies were ever conducted to examine the relationship between people and animals.
Even Sigmund Freud recognized that his dog Jofi had a calming affect on patients. Freud sometimes brought Jofi to his office for therapy sessions, and he found that patients were less anxious and better able to share their feelings when Jofi was in the room with them.
Animal Assisted Therapy can facilitate the development of greater trust and stronger bonds, growing skills that can be used to improve self care and to allow for more satisfying interpersonal relationships.