Therapy dogs can provide a number of benefits for people in addiction recovery. They can provide emotional support and a sense of companionship, which can be particularly helpful for those who may be feeling isolated or alone during the recovery process.
What is Animal-Assisted Therapy?
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a form of therapy that involves the use of animals, such as dogs, horses, or cats, as a form of treatment to help improve physical, social, emotional, and cognitive functioning in people. AAT can be used to address a wide range of physical and mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, stress, autism, and substance abuse disorders.
In AAT, trained animals are used as a therapeutic tool under the supervision of a licensed healthcare professional, such as a therapist, social worker, or occupational therapist. AAT can take place in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and rehabilitation centers.
There are several different types of AAT, including:
- Pet therapy: This involves bringing a trained animal, such as a dog or cat, into a healthcare setting to visit with patients.
- Equine therapy: This involves the use of horses in therapy and can include activities such as horseback riding, grooming, and caring for the animals.
- Aquatic therapy: This involves the use of water and aquatic animals, such as dolphins or seals, in therapy.
AAT can have a variety of benefits, including improving social skills, increasing motivation and self-esteem, reducing stress and anxiety, and providing a sense of companionship and purpose. However, it is important to note that AAT is not a substitute for traditional medical treatment and should be used in conjunction with other therapies and treatments as recommended by a healthcare professional.
Therapy Dogs and Addiction Recovery
Therapy dogs, such as our very own Pippa at Flatirons Recovery, can provide a sense of structure and routine, which can be beneficial for people in recovery who may be struggling to establish healthy habits and routines. Therapy dogs can also help heal old wounds, such as relational and attachment wounds, through companionship, connection, and trust-building.
In addition, therapy dogs can provide a sense of comfort and relaxation, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety and promote a sense of well-being.
There is some evidence to suggest that therapy dogs can be particularly helpful in addiction recovery in a number of ways. For example, research has shown that interacting with therapy dogs can help to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve mood. Therapy dogs can also provide a sense of purpose and meaning, which can be especially important for people in recovery who may be struggling to find their place in the world.
AAT as Part of Holistic Recovery
Overall, working with a therapy dog can be a valuable part of an addiction recovery program, as it can provide emotional support, structure, and relaxation, which can all be important factors in the recovery process. It is important to note, however, that therapy dogs are just one part of a comprehensive recovery program, and they should be used in conjunction with other treatment approaches such as counseling, support groups, and medication management.
At Flatirons Recovery, we combine animal-assisted therapy with many other evidence-based modalities of treatment, such as mindfulness, nutritional programming, nature-based programming, DBT, EMDR, medication management, acupuncture, and so much more to help our clients heal from all angles. Contact us to learn more about our programming.