Animal assisted therapy (AAT) has become the new buzzword in the field of mental health.
While animal assisted therapy was previously seen as an alternative treatment, it has become more main stream, and it’s now common to find animals in the therapy office, retirement community, and hospital.
All animals can provide love and friendship to those around them, but therapy animals are specially trained to be comfortable around people with disabilities, to not bite when startled, and to accept petting from people of all ages and conditions.
What is animal assisted therapy?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “pet therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, and mental health disorders.”
Animal assisted therapy has been studied and proven to work with children who have experienced abuse or neglect and for people recovering from cancer and other diseases. It’s been shown to be effective with veterans and their families. Nursing homes, libraries, schools, and even prisons have had success with bringing trained animals in to help ease tension, provide support, and comfort. Animals are able to reach people in ways that nothing else can.
What makes animal assisted therapy work?
For some people, it’s because of a crisis, such as infidelity, job loss, illness or accidents.
Others come in because they feel distant and want to grow closer, or they seek counseling before they marry to sort out any difficulties and ensure that they’re ready for life together.
Some couples simply know that something feels wrong but they don’t know what, and they want to fix it.
But once you and your partner have decided to seek counseling, how do you make the most of it? Here are six things to consider.
“Jessica” (pseudonym) was 18 years old when she enlisted in the Army. She was trained as a mechanic, and enjoyed what she did.
The Army provided her the family she didn’t have at home and a sense of belonging and stability. At the time, the United States was not engaged in a war. A year later, this would change.
Jessica was sent to Afghanistan. While there, she was injured when the truck she was driving hit an IED. After her body healed, and she continued in her unit. Like all service people who serve in a war, Jessica saw and experienced many horrific things.
After her time in Afghanistan ended and she was back in the US, Jessica’s body wasn’t the same. She had an undiagnosed TBI (traumatic brain injury) from the IED. She had intense mood swings. She couldn’t concentrate. She had nightmares nearly every night.
These were all problems that Jessica felt like she could talk about with other veterans, friends and family. Things like TBI and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) have become well known and understood.
What Jessica didn’t feel like she could talk about was the rape by her commanding officer, the very person in the chain of command she was expected to report sexual assault to, and who she looked up to like a father.
Words are powerful, and in a relationship they can be used to both bring people together or push them apart.
As a therapist, I’ve noticed that there are several statements couples commonly make to each other that destroy the foundation of their relationship. Sometimes the words are used deliberately to hurt the other person, and sometimes the destruction comes about through carelessness.
If you want to have a healthy relationship, it’s important to be aware of the impact your words will have on your partner.
Here are the top relationship destroying statements that couples make to each other, and some ideas of what to say instead.
If you’re a parent with a mental illness, or if someone in your family is mentally ill, you may struggle with how to talk about it with your children. You may feel embarrassed or even ashamed about your disease.
Even thought it can be difficult, it’s important to create a safe space for kids to hear and ask questions about the illness that affects you or your partner.
Here are five tips to help you get started.
Before you ever enter a therapist’s office, there are some basic questions you should know the answer to:
Are they licensed to provide counseling or therapy, and is their license up-to-date? Do they take insurance? How long are sessions? What is the cost for each session? What type of payment do they accept? Do they treat the problem you’re seeking help for? What are their hours? What is their cancellation policy?
In addition to these questions, there are more specific things you may want to inquire about that will help you find out if a particular therapist will be a good fit with you:
Have you ever wondered what group therapy is all about? Portrayals of fictional group therapy are all over; on TV, in the movies and in literature. But what is real group therapy like? And why would anyone want to open up their soul to other people who are not friends or family?
Everyone has been in a group of some sort. Most of people have been in many. In elementary school students are grouped together by skill level for reading or math. In high school they’re put into groups for projects. Adults are in work groups, church groups, AA, or groups of friends.
All these groups have distinct purposes: to educate, to construct, to build, to learn, to support, or to socialize. In a similar manner, group therapy has a purpose. This is different depending on what type of group therapy you’re in.