Animal-assisted Therapy

Animals are an important part of many people’s lives — their mere presence can contribute to human’s happiness, making their life more meaningful. However, animals may do more than just provide companionship.

New research suggests they can improve emotional, social and cognitive functioning in adolescents with severe mental disorders. The study, published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, examined the effects of animal-assisted therapy, which is an intervention involving guided interaction between a patient and a trained animal. The purpose of this intervention is to aid a patient’s recovery process.

“The young patients who feel fragile, needy and dependent on others in the hospital context, can experience themselves as caretakers of someone else in the [animal-assisted therapy] environment,” researchers said, according to The Pacific Standard. “This experience can improve their sense of self-agency and self-cure, and these positive effects are not only limited to the human-animal bond, but can be extended to the patient’s global functioning and to the entire process of care.”

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