Who could deny that animals can have a positive impact on emotional well-being? As research continues in the field of alternative medicine, more and more people are beginning to recognize the cathartic effect that animals can have on an individual’s well-being, especially in patients suffering from depression.
While some people recover from depression with medication alone, there are many others who would prefer to use a combination of alternative therapies to try and relieve symptoms of depression. One of these treatments being studied is “pet therapy”, but what is this alternative and how might it help?
Many scientists have spent endless hours studying the different types of therapies available to treat depression as a disease; “Pet therapy” was completed as one of these therapies. Animals have long been recognized as a positive force in the healing process.
Dogs in particular have a calming and therapeutic effect on humans. They can help people cope with the emotional issues related to their illness. They also provide physical contact with another living being and help divert a person’s attention from their pressing daily problems. Owning a dog brings with it a sense of responsibility. Dogs rely on their owners for feeding, walking, attention and love. What better excuse for a depressed person to get up in the morning?
Dogs love almost everyone without prejudice or rejection. You don’t have to speak a language to communicate with a four-legged friend. Give them a treat, tickle their tummy and they will love you to no end. Dogs are aware of sickness and sadness and really want to offer company and comfort; They display an abundance of intelligence and are both intuitive and compassionate. Any dog owner will agree and agree with me when I say it’s a warm feeling when their dog can recognize their sorrow and lick away their tears.
Pet Therapy can facilitate many positive changes, one example being improved socialization skills. Animals can be used in group therapy programs to promote communication and increase concentration. Assisting in developing a person’s self-esteem and reducing their loneliness and anxiety are just a few potential benefits of one-on-one therapy.
The bond between humans and animals is demonstrated every day in millions of homes around the world. It is also becoming an effective, common form of therapy in many settings such as hospitals, schools and residential homes.
While it is difficult to measure and quantify the benefits of canine therapy with hard scientific evidence, there is no question that the magical interaction that is possible between animal and human is unmistakable. Tears can be dried. Frowns turn into smiles. Silences are broken, and last but not least, loneliness and isolation can be ejected from a person just by touching and cuddling. Dogs offer their owner’s absolute and unconditional love and a level of limitless patience that no human could ever match. A dog’s love knows no bounds, what better form of alternative therapy could there be?
The author reserves all rights to this work.
(c) Samantha Weber 2006
Thanks to Samantha Weaver