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Animal-Assisted Therapies & Pet Friendly Rehabs Near Me

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Animal assisted therapy incorporates animals such as dogs and horses into a therapeutic treatment plan. Animals may be used in various forms of psychological therapy and can function by reducing the stress and/or anxiety of the patient.

For those with an affinity for animals, animal-assisted therapies can make a nerve-wracking experience easier to manage. For those who have experienced trauma or are unable to verbalize their emotions, working with animals can provide a source of confidence and confidentiality. Exploring the various types of animal-assisted therapies opens new ways of helping people deal with mental health disorders that can lead to more positive outcomes and longer-term recovery in substance abuse treatment.

What Are the Types of Animal-Assisted Therapy?

HorseThere are basically two ways that animals are involved in therapy, as explained by the National Association of Social Workers.

  • Pet therapy is where volunteers take their gentle, trained pets to different settings, like hospitals or schools, to cheer up people who are dealing with difficulty, such as after surgery or during difficult treatments. This type of therapy is simple, providing the gentle joy of being around or petting a happy animal. It is not to be underestimated, however. Relieving stress can help the body produce hormones and neurotransmitters that aid in physical and emotional stability and health.
  • Animal-assisted therapy, on the other hand, involves social workers, counselors, or other therapists who specifically involve the animal in treatment therapies. This type of work can be done with a wide range of animals, but two of the most commonly known therapies using animals involve dogs (canine-assisted therapy) and horses (equine-assisted therapy).

Can I Bring My Pet to Rehab?

Some may wish to bring their pet to rehab, whether their pet may help them through their treatment or they can’t find someone to look after their pet. While some rehabs may allow you to bring your pet, we suggest calling ahead of time to confirm. Call us at . Our rehabs may potentially allow you to bring your pet.

Finding Animal Therapy Programs Near Me

When seeking treatment for substance abuse or other mental health disorders, it can be beneficial to inquire whether or not specific facilities have access to or offer animal therapy, especially for those who have trouble verbalizing with a therapist. For those who might benefit from this type of involvement, making sure that a prospective treatment program includes this alternative therapy can improve the individual’s involvement and increase the chances for a positive outcome.

Is Animal Assisted Therapy Covered by Insurance?

Drug or alcohol rehab and associated therapies may be covered (at least in part) by your insurance provider.

Research and Effectiveness of Animal Therapy

Studies have shown varied levels of effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy. In particular, a research review from Complementary Therapies in Medicine demonstrated that while some studies are generally of low quality, these therapies can be particularly beneficial for people who like and relate to animals.4 This is verified by various reports, such as one from Current Pain and Headache Reports, which shows that animal-assisted therapy with cancer patients has resulted in reports of lower pain levels, verified clinically by increased levels of endorphins after the animal visit.

Specifically for treatment of substance abuse, a study from the journal Anthrozoos showed that having a therapy dog involved in the sessions between a therapist and a person in treatment helped make the person in treatment feel more positive about the therapeutic alliance than if there was no dog in the session.

Because positive attitudes about the treatment process can have a beneficial effect on treatment outcomes, these studies indicate that animal-assisted therapy can be effective in helping to achieve desired outcomes when they are used in the rehab process.

Other Uses of Animal-Assisted Therapy

  • Paid reduction.4
  • Stress reduction.4
  • Immune system strengthening and support.5
  • Wellbeing and satisfaction level improvement.6
  • Increase in quality of life for older adults.7
  • Depression and dementia relief in older adults.8
  1. Perkins, Amanda DNP, RN. (2020). The benefits of pet therapy. Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!
  2. Kathie M. Cole, RN, MN, CCRN, Anna Gawlinski, RN, DNSc; Neil Steers, PhD; Jenny Kotlerman, MS. (2007). Animal-Assisted Therapy in Patients Hospitalized With Heart Failure. Am J Crit Care (2007) 16 (6): 575–585.
  3. Fessell, David P. MD*,† Pets and Procedures. Annals of Surgery Open: March 2022 – Volume 3 – Issue 1 – p e143.
  4. Hiroharu Kamioka, Shinpei Okada, Kiichiro Tsutani, Hyuntae Park, Hiroyasu Okuizumi, Shuichi Handa, Takuya Oshio, Sang-Jun Park… Yoshiteru Mutoh. Effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Volume 22, Issue 2, 2014, Pages 371-390.
  5. Marcus DA. (2013). The science behind animal-assisted therapy. Curr Pain Headache Rep.
  6. Barker, S. B., Knisely, J. S., McCain, N. L., & Best, A. M. (2005). Measuring Stress and Immune Response in Healthcare Professionals following Interaction with a Therapy Dog: A Pilot Study. Psychological Reports, 96(3), 713–729.
  7. Harper, Carl M. MD1,a; Dong, Yan PhD2; Thornhill, Thomas S. MD2; Wright, John MD2; Ready, John MD2; Brick, Gregory W. MD2; Dyer, George MD2. (2015). Can Therapy Dogs Improve Pain and Satisfaction After Total Joint Arthroplasty? A Randomized Controlled Trial. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research: Volume 473 – Issue 1 – p 372-379.
  8. Roschelle Heuberger. (2017). Associations of Pet Ownership with Older Adults Eating Patterns and Health. Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research, vol. 2017.
  9. Olsen, C., Pedersen, I., Bergland, A., Enders-Slegers, M.-J., Patil, G., & Ihlebaek, C. (2016). Effect of animal-assisted interventions on depression, agitation and quality of life in nursing home residents suffering from cognitive impairment or dementia: A cluster randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 31(12), 1312–1321.
Last Updated on May 20, 2022
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