As pet parents, most of us know how cathartic it can be, when overwhelmed by stress, sickness, or exhaustion, to have our best fur friend curl up beside us. The simple act of comfort can reassure a troubled mind or refocus our attention on connection, and the unconditional, nonverbal bond between humans and animals.
Given this, it not surprising that the idea of animal therapy changing the lives of those struggling with age, illness, or the myriad of life’s challenges is palpable both to us and those in the field of human medicine.
Therapy that involves traditional pets (such as cats or dogs), or other animals, such as horses, rabbits, and chinchillas, focuses more on psychosocial assistance, including mood stabilization and improvement, physical healing, and coping with emotional challenges.
Unlike certified service animals, which are specifically trained to provide rehabilitation services recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), therapy animals generally focus on more of the “soft needs” of connection, comfort, and solace.
However, as psychosocial challenges become more recognized and understood as barriers to thriving, therapy animals may also get the same ADA recognition. Continue…