Animal-Assisted Therapy and Addiction

Animal-assisted therapy (particularly Equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) and canine therapy) is one of the most effective forms of experiential therapy available and has proven to be fun, nurturing, and very therapeutically beneficial for clients in inpatient drug and alcohol
treatment centers. With animal assisted therapy, rather than talking to a therapist, clients interact with a horse or dog in a series of exercises designed to strengthen and develop non-verbal and verbal communication, creative thinking, problem solving, leadership, trust, responsibility, confidence and relationship skills. Animal-assisted therapy has been shown to
be successful in helping individuals with numerous issues other than just substance abuse, including eating disorders, adolescents with emotional problems, and with the rehabilitation of prison inmates.  The distinctive experience of bonding with an animal offers several advantages. Working with an animal often allows individuals to let their guard down and reduce stress, as studies have shown that individuals actually have lower heart rates and stress levels when in the presence of animals.   In addition,animals have the unique ability to mirror exactly what human body language is telling them; an individual’s reaction to the animal and the animal’s reaction them helps to highlight the behaviors, feelings and relationships that have caused pain and fed an addiction.


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