Thames Center Service Dogs also Provides Animal Assisted Therapy
Synopsis: Thames Center Service Dogs are now working with A Circle of Hope Therapy Center where Animal Assisted Therapy is used alongside psychotherapy and physiotherapy.1
Author: Elizabeth Baker
Published: 2010-10-18 Updated: 2013-06-14
Main DigestMuch has happened since my last article published 2009-08-27. We have undergone construction, as well as a name change, from Baker Dog Behavioral Center to Thames Center Service Dogs.
We are also now working with A Circle of Hope Therapy Center, where Animal Assisted Therapy is used alongside psychotherapy and physiotherapy. We still provide Service Dogs for brain injury and disease, epilepsy, M.S., Diabetes, Autism and Psychiatric clients. Whew!
I am very proud of the Therapy work we are doing and much of it covers a vast array of needs. While physiotherapy is very important, it is also equally important to get in touch with emotional healing as well. The animals used in the program assist the clientele in finding emotional support and comfort, while dealing with painful issues, be they physical or emotional. It's really quite amazing to see the advancements made during the process. Whether dealing with physical pain or emotional pain, the need for therapy is the same. Both require the desire to become well, which can be a long, arduous journey. A Circle of Hope Therapy Center incorporates therapy, holistic healing and nature in the process. What better way to heal, than in nature
Whether the therapy involves horses, dogs, goats, birds etc., it encourages the client to look at their own needs and healing through animal behavior and assistance. While not new in the world of therapy, it is a rather unique stance in Canada. I adore my country, but we are rather slow in trying new things. While we are somewhat behind other countries, we are making changes and recognizing the value in Animal Assisted Therapy. It is not limited to age, as Animal Therapy can be of great benefit to young and old alike. Whether assisting a child with reading difficulties or reminding an Alzheimer's patient of a pet they had when they were young, the smiles are the same.
And now we are venturing into new areas, such as bereavement therapy and disaster stress relief. We need only look at the Therapy Dogs used at Ground Zero to see the benefits there. As well, we can use Animal Assisted Therapy for victim disclosure in children, women and seniors who may find talking about their trauma with other people, simply too difficult. Animal Assisted Therapy is becoming the new 'norm' and well it should be. After all, animals don't judge, lie or manipulate...unless there is a really good treat nearby, then the licking may begin. In many situations, a client feels safer talking about trauma when a dog is cuddled up to them.
The benefits of healing touch have been noted in many studies, as well as the touch of petting an animal. This has been shown to lower stress, decrease healing time and improve longevity. Many nursing homes and hospitals now encourage animal visits, noting an improvement in patient health following a visit. The patient is often more alert, generally has a better attitude and looks forward to the next visit. While certain rules must be followed by the handler, each animal is readily welcomed. Cleanliness is crucial as well as obedience and training, for any animal to be a Therapy Helper, but most animals can be trained for this work rather easily. I have personally found that each of our dogs become quite excited about going to work, after all, they are going to enjoy copious amounts of attention.
Lastly, when dealing with the terminally ill, sometimes having a cat or dog lying on their bed can assist a patient with pain management, as well as anxiety. The purring of a cat has been noted to be the perfect frequency for nerve manipulation, thus lowering pain levels. The stroking of a dog, which is providing Deep Pressure Therapy, can significantly lower anxiety and fear. Following death, the Canine Helper can continue to help the family with grief, as they see the dog as a familiar friend. Canine Helpers often offer comfort without the need for words, as we people find so difficult following a death. They don't mind if someone cries and hugs them while they sit quietly, providing unconditional love.
Elizabeth Baker is the owner of www.thamescentreservicedogs.com - And yes, I still love my job!
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