How the animals can help
Animal Assisted Interventions involve the use of specifically chosen animals in a range of activities or interactions with people that are designed to meet individual goals or objectives. These interventions usually form part of an integrated approach to care alongside health care professionals and progress is monitored and reviewed as part of program planning.
Animal-assisted interventions can often bring positive results when other conventional approaches do not seem to work.
Animal Assisted Activities are less specific and can include activities such as general animal care and husbandry.
Activities are less goal-focused and may be carried out with different people within a group such as animal handling 'meet and greet' activities.
Most people are aware of the use of dogs to assist people with physical or sensory needs to go about their daily lives, but there is a long history of the use of other animals for their therapeutic qualities.
Just being around animals and caring for them can be hugely beneficial both physically and mentally. It is now well documented that holding and stroking animals can reduce blood pressure and alleviate feelings of tension and anxiety.
Animals are non-judgemental and give unconditional love, and for survivors of abuse can often be the first form of 'safe touch'.
They are an excellent aid to communication and are always a good talking point, but they are also useful in assisting with non-verbal communication and have produced good results when working with people with autistic spectrum disorders and attention deficit disorder.
Animal Assisted Interventions can be used to assist with maintaining mobility and improving co-ordination and people can learn transferrable skills to assist them in daily life.
What are the benefits?
Some benefits of Animal Assisted Intervention are:
Combats loneliness and encourages social integration
Promotes a sense of responsibility and empathy with others
Encourages nurturing traits
Promotes self-esteem, independence and self-confidence
Animal assisted interventions can act as a catalyst for change and help people through transitional life stages
Animal assisted interventions can assist people in finding alternative 'coping strategies' to face challenges and support personal growth