Thousands of people have benefited from our furry best friends.
We all know that a pet can make your life more pleasant. But today, the field of psychology has become supportive of using pets as a means for therapy because of the benefits they give their owners, and it recommends having a pet for treating various ailments.
Pets help people relate and they increase self-esteem
Perhaps you’re going through a tough time, a moment of anxiety, a painful moment, and suddenly your pet arrives and feels your emotional state. Aware that you need help, he keeps you company.
Anyone can have a pet as a therapeutic helper. But a pet is most helpful for:
- People with heart disease
- People with cerebral paralysis
- Patients with terminal illnesses
- Patients with mental illnesses
- Patients with behavior disorders, etc.
There are different ways of doing therapy with animals. It can be done in an individual or group way, adapted to whether the patient is a child or an adult.
The specific method with dogs
Some forms of therapy use dogs who accompany the patient at all times so they won’t feel alone. The dog helps the patient be distracted, and the goal is to reduce the pain or anxiety that the patient may be suffering.
People often talk to their pets and share their thoughts and feelings with them. Having a dog as a companion brings great therapeutic benefits for older and/or sick people who may suffer depression, for example.
Some of the therapeutic benefits
- The owner’s well-being
- Helps the patient to overcome illness
- Helps overcome the death of a spouse
- Helps with socialization
- Reduces the feeling of abandonment
- Reduces tension and stress
- Reduces anxiety
- Brings joy to the patient’s life
It’s key to remember that an animal will never take the place of a person, but it can substitute for some of the benefits people get from positive interpersonal relationships. Some domestic animals have a type of relational affinity with people that allows them to give emotional support and a constant stimulus, especially in specific cases of some illnesses, and also when loneliness becomes an affliction.
This article was originally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia and has been translated and/or adapted here for English speaking readers.