Animals help humans in more ways than we’ll ever fully understand, but what we do know is that they can have an important role in a person’s physical, social, educational and emotional well-being.
Animal-assisted therapy can be an effective alternative or addition to traditional therapy models, whether it’s physical therapy, occupational therapy or cognitive behavior therapy. Even though animal-assisted therapy may not be able to fully heal a person or cure their disease, this life-changing interaction and companionship can improve a person’s mobility, increase their self-esteem, foster learning and simply make life more enjoyable.
Benefits of Animal-assisted therapy for teens
Animal assisted therapy can help teens to feel less stressed, decrease anxiety, become more cooperative and open, gain confidence, and improve interaction with others. Teens can also grow in their empathy toward others as well as their willingness to take responsibility for their own actions.
Why is animal-assisted therapy effective for teens
As to why animal-assisted therapy effectively treats mental health-related issues, there are numerous theories, contributing factors, and scientific studies to refer to.
For instance, Edward O. Wilson, famed biologist, posits through the biophilia hypothesis that our attachments to animals stem from our ancient, prehistoric ancestors’ reliance on animals for survival. Wilson points out that our ancestors relied on signals from animals that indicated environmental conditions to determine whether they were safe or threatening.
Wilson’s hypothesis posits that if we see animals in a peaceful or restful state, we feel a reciprocated sense of “safety, security, and improved well-being.” Incidentally, Wilson suggests this reciprocated connection with animals may enable a triggered state in us – one in which we can experience personal and healing change.
Mental health benefits of animal-assisted therapy for teens
- decreasing anxiety and stress
- decreasing perceptions of pain
- reducing feelings of fear or worry
- increasing feelings of social support
- providing motivation, stimulation, and focus
If you are at your wit’s end with a good teen making bad decisions, there are excellent programs that can help through animal-assisted therapy. Parents’ Universal Resource Experts has helped, and continues to help, thousands of families dealing with troubled teens. Contact us for a free consultation.