Many of us smile or laugh when we see the adorable Youtube videos of animals doing funny or unusual things. Some of us even cringe when we see the ASPCA commercials on TV, where we see helpless animals paired with sad, melodic music. How is it that these creatures evoke such strong emotions out of us by merely looking at them. It’s interesting to think of the impact their physical presence they can have on our mental health.
An article by Liz Lipton in the magazine, Psychiatric News, outlines the benefits of using specially trained animals to help their patients overcome mental illness when traditional interventions have failed. Some of the benefits talked about in the article are:
• Depressed patients had increased socialization and decreased depression. • Children with severe ADHD and conduct disorder had decreased aggressive behavior and improved attention. • Patients with autism or developmental disabilities had increased socialization and improved attention. • Patients with Alzheimer’s disease had improved attention and decreased aggression and anger.
http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/36/3/17.1.full Some therapists even encourage their clients to bring in their pets, when clients feel they need extra support or comfort.
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