What is animal therapy or pet therapy or animal assisted therapy? This type of therapy involves the use of animals during therapy to assist in the emotional, cognitive, physical and social functioning and capabilities. Using animals during the therapy process can assist in reducing pain, depression, fatigue and so forth, in people with a multitude of health challenges as well as traumatic experiences, e.g., persons who have been hospitalized for an extended period of time and veterans with stress disorders. The animals range from cats and dogs to horses and water based marine life.

Animal assisted therapy

Animal assisted therapy can be used in two ways, firstly, owners with pets who are trained to be gentle, are taken to various locations to cheer people who are recovering from their traumas. This is simply using the animals to spread happiness and promoting physical interaction between the patients and the animals. It helps in promoting stress relief and increasing neurotransmitters that assist in physical and emotional well-being and stability. Secondly, it is used as an instrument by trained professionals during counseling sessions.

Benefits of animal therapy

Animals assist in making some experiences easier to manage, e.g., trauma. It can assist in lessening the stress of recalling or speaking about the issue.

Children have difficulty verbalizing their feelings and working with animals gives them an outlet to create confidence. The unconditional acceptance animals can offer will assist in putting the patient at ease.

This form of therapy can assist in patients who are not communicative during the counseling process. It can bring them out of their shells and allow withdraw patients to be more open to the communication process.

In equine – assisted therapy, the horse is used to give the counselor insights into the patients' interpersonal relationship based on how the person responds to the animal.

It can be used for physical rehabilitation, e.g., throwing a ball or a stick, walking the animal, and so forth. This form of therapy can promote problem-solving skills, develop higher levels of interest, e.g., therapy dogs.

This therapy can also help improve certain health conditions, e.g., lower blood pressure, produce calming endorphin and can assist in lower pain, assists with improving the health of persons suffering from heart conditions.

Overall, this form of therapy has benefits on the emotional state of the patient, for example: animals provide comfort, promote social interaction, lessens feelings of isolation, lessens depression and reduces anxiety.

This therapy has grown in popularity in schools and in hospitals. It assists the children by lessening their stress, increasing their play and lifting their moods. This type of therapy has also been beneficial after a natural disaster where the animals are used to help those traumatized during their recovery process.

Animal therapy is especially successful with people with have an affinity for animals or who like and relate well to animals. The calming effect the animals have on the patients can promote a less stressful environment than traditional therapy sessions. It is a more relaxed atmosphere, and the patient has the comfort of the animal. If you are interested in this type of therapy, seek the assistance and guidance of a trained medical professional. Sometimes, traditional routes may not be the only solution.