Over the past several decades it has become not only an accepted practice but also an evidence-based one to use pets to improve a person’s emotional and physical health.
Just the presence of a calm, supportive dog during a therapy session can increase the positive results of the encounter cognitively, emotionally, and physiologically.
That’s why I want to introduce you to Angel.
Angel, a golden retriever, is my trained companion dog. She joins us, with your consent of course, during our sessions. Her presence is meant to help facilitate the therapeutic process.
What is the Therapeutic Value of Dogs?
Many people suffering from a range of concerns like daily stressors to severe trauma report finding comfort and reduction in their ailments by spending time with therapy dogs and other pets.
On a body level, you respond to petting a dog like Angel with a decrease in blood pressure. Stress drops too, giving you room to connect with your internal experience. The less stress in your system, the more present and receptive you are to therapy, both immediately and long-term.
Another body-based benefit of working with a therapy dog is the chance for physical contact with another living being when revisiting times in your life when you may not have had that comfort.
Many people report an easier time discussing stressful feelings and memories while petting a therapy dog. Some like to ask Angel to support them by lying close by. Not only does this soothe your brain and allow you to process new information and experiences, it’s something Angel really enjoys too.
Angel is sensitive and intuitive; she will carefully join you at your request, and she will give you space when you’d like it.
On an emotional level, being in contact with a therapy dog like Angel offers a number of positive benefits, some of which include:
- Reduced sense of loneliness
- Easier self-expression
- Increased humor and playfulness
- Developed sense of trust
- Decreased feelings of anxiety
- Increased engagement in therapy
In fact, according to several studies, spending time with a loving dog can even improve your body image–the unconditional support and attention of a pet like Angel can gradually encourage self-acceptance and improve self-confidence.
Naturally, not everyone is positively affected by the presence of therapy dogs. There are those who fear dogs, or simply are not comfortable with an animal in the room. Angel’s level of participation–including her very presence–will be determined based on your own comfort level and consent.
What Other Benefits Can You Receive from Therapy Dogs?
The list of advantages associated with the relationship between people and pets in therapy is a long one. In fact, research is still being done today to uncover additional benefits.
This is just a sampling of the benefits you can receive from therapy dogs. If you’d like to learn more about Angel, therapy dogs, or require counseling in the Boulder, CO area, please don’t hesitate to contact me.