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Animal-assisted therapy makes its mark in the world of psychiatry

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Therapy dogs aid humans with several types of disabilities both mental and physical. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of treatment where "trained animals facilitate patients' progress toward therapeutic goals" (Barker and Dawson, 1998). Non-human animals are used in multiple settings to change the lives of those in need. A 2006 study, conducted by Anke Prothmann, Manuela Bienert and Christine Ettrich, found a significant increase in the general "state of mind" of patients participating in AAT compared to those receiving treatment as usual.

Patients were separated into two groups: AAT group and treatment as usual group. The Basler Befindlichkeits-Skala (BBS) test was administered to both groups before and after each treatment. The BBS measures vitality, intra-emotional balance, social extraversion and alertness (Prothmann et al., 2006). Patients who received animal-assisted therapy showed a greater level of vitality, intra-emotional balance, social extraversion and alertness.

Non-human animals give unconditional love and provide humans with a bond that cannot be described in words. The light that illuminates from the presence of a dog, cat or any non-human animal is pure innocence. Humans are taught to care and love whereas non-human animals already know how.

References

Barker, S., & Dawson, K. (1998). The effects of animal-assisted therapy on anxiety ratings of hospitalized psychiatric patients. Psychiatric Services, 49(6), 797-801

Prothmann, A., Bienert, M., & Ettrich, C. (2006). Dogs in child psychotherapy: Effects on state of mind. Anthrozoos, 19(3), 265-277

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