Pet therapy is all about how animals have a cathartic effect on a person. This is more than just a statement expressing the belief of doting pet owners across the world. Pets are being increasingly used by psychiatrists and psychotherapists to help patients recover from depression. The reason is simple. Pets with their almost childlike antics and the ability to respond freely to the love and affection is one. It has been shown to them offer several emotional and social benefits to the humans who seek their company.
There is no coincidence behind what we seek as humans and what animals provide; in previous writing we’ve touched on the importance of Pet Therapy. We discussed how one might consider having their animal become a certified therapy dog. But today we would like to lift the veil of awareness with regard to how the therapy actually works through four very specific interactions.
Spending time with a pet helps people suffering from depression focus outwards. The more involved they get with the pet the easier it becomes for them to forget their own issues. This in turn translates into a vital step towards recovery. One of the reasons why people remain stuck in the darkness is because they get stuck in a vicious cycle. This cycle of negativity and depression created by their own minds. Focusing on someone other than themselves helps such individuals realize there is more to life than the problems they are ‘plagued’ with or that they perceive themselves to be plagued with.
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Laughter is a medicine that pets offer freely. With their cute antics they often manage to bring a smile on the saddest faces. And it is a well known fact frequent chuckles and smiles serve as great antidotes for depression. With the support of the ‘human’ expressions animals show, patients are able to transfer the silliness they feel into the animal. Thus allowing themselves to let down any harsh self judging patterns; and become present with life as it is before them.
Breaking Down Barriers
Another hurdle that pets are supportive for helping patients overcome is bringing down the walls a depressed individual has built around themselves. People suffering from depression often withdraw into their own world. They refuse to respond to love and affection despite craving it. Such people often find it easier to connect to guileless pets. Unlike humans, pets do not have complicated responses to affection-they react freely and openly without any subtle signals. This makes it easier for a depressed individual to open himself/herself to love once again.
Healing the Hurt
Pets are also known to heal side effects of depression like gloominess and loneliness. After all, pets are dependent on their owners for food, love and their general well being. They constantly seek their owners’ company, effectively curing their human companions’ feelings of loneliness. With respect to dogs being pack animals by nature; this innate sense of gathering supports to drawing the depressed individual out of their shell. What’s more, unlike humans, pets are neither too busy for those they love. Nor are their minds complex enough to withhold from showing affection.
Though pet therapy can do wonders it has its own limitations. In the generalist of terms, Pet Therapy may only work for those mildly depressed patients who are affable towards pets. Does this mean you need to scoop up for furry four legged best friend and run out to a hospital or a to a friend in need? No. But knowing a little more about the positive effects of Pet Therapy will help. How the basics of it works will allow you to better judge if recommending this type of solution to a friend in need may be appropriate.
Remember not all therapies work with all individuals. And as a result Pet Therapy may not produce any results. You need to be aware it may even backfire if forced on people who do not like animals.