What is animal-assisted therapy?
According to Zoothérapie Québec, zootherapy is: “an intervention that takes place in individual or group form, with the help of a carefully selected and trained pet, introduced by a qualified practitioner to a person to stimulate reactions aimed at maintaining or improving its cognitive, physical, psychological or social potential. ”
We can say that, like any form of therapy, it aims to improve the well-being of people. However, it has this unique peculiarity to use our animal friends.
Used for a century in Europe, it has been gaining popularity here in Canada for a few years.
The benefits of animal-assisted therapy
The benefits of relationships between humans and animals are the basis of pet-assisted therapy. Indeed, it is proven that interacting with an animal produces a host of positive effects on the body. In addition to physiological impacts such as a drop in blood pressure and the production of endorphins, which help us to feel calm, this comforting presence also acts as an anxiety reducer, while improving the mental state in a general way.
As the needs of each are different, the therapist adapts the approach and specific objectives to each of their patients. Pet-assisted therapy can serve several purposes, such as:
- Promote a better self-esteem
- Develop social skills
- Improve motor skills
- Inspire to stay physically active
- Help self-control and self-discipline in children
- Reduce boredom and depression
- Foster communication
- Bring back happiness, calm and “joie de vivre”
All this, thanks to little fluff balls, always willing to help us!
Who can benefit from pet-assisted therapy?
Pet-assisted therapy can be useful for many people, both children and adults. It is beneficial to people with particular problems, loss of autonomy, going through difficult times or suffering from diseases, disorders or disabilities.
Because it can help improve communication, reduce stress and pain, it is often used in children with autism, the elderly, chemotherapy patients and people with mental health problems.
Animal-based programs are now routinely incorporated into schools, clinics and senior residences to improve morale and reduce anxiety.
Who are the main actors in pet-assisted therapy?
Dogs and cats are most often used in this type of therapy. However, many animals can also participate, such as horses, rabbits, birds and many others. The sociability and the softness of the animal is of course the number one criterion. It must love to be cuddled, know how to adapt, in addition to showing calm and affection. So, it takes little happy and healthy animals who are able to receive the necessary training to become “therapists”.
In order to give people the feeling of well-being they need, our friends the animals must also have grown up surrounded by love and kindness. Hence the importance of the BEA Foundation, with whom Crocx is proud to collaborate to support charitable organizations working in the field of pets in Quebec. Because happy pets make happy people!