News - Useful
Animal Assisted Therapy
06:00 - 03 November 2015
Author: Horváth Nikoletta
Animal assisted therapy opens doors. With the help of our four-legged friends we can open hearts that we thought would stay closed forever. When we break these invisible handcuffs, dogs will fill our lives with light, love and peace instead of desperation, inhibition and fear.
The following anecdote comes from Dr. Boris Levinson: according to the story the American psychologist was treating a boy with behavior problems. No matter how hard he tried, the boy would not speak. One day the doctor took his dog along to his practice as he couldn’t leave him home. Surprisingly, the reserved boy who refused to say a single word began to speak – he talked to the dog. Step-by-step he opened up, so Levinson decided to take his dog to the next sessions, too. Later in the ’60s specially trained dogs got a major role as it turned out that they are able to build bridges we humans would never be able to: they offer us a way from heart to heart.
A video about a therapy dog’s regular visits to a hospice house has travelled the world. This is the place where love is need probably the most. The soothing closeness of friendly dogs means more than anything to the people who spend the last period of their lives there. Waiting for the time when they finally close their eyes is the hardest thing a man could ever experience. Some of them have no family, no visitors who could ease their pain. But the wonderful canine companions bring love and joy to their sad days so that all the long and empty moments are filled with light and hope. They give them a possibility to connect to someone, someone who understand them through emotions. No words are needed but the power of silence can move mountains and open doors there have been closed for a while. Therapy sessions are led in cooperation with the doctors under the supervision of the institution. Getting in touch with the patients can be emotionally difficult for therapy dog owners. It’s impossible to stay away, to avoid getting involved but they need to take a step back to give space to their special dogs.
I often do bed visits, though never without The Bossy One. This is a lady who has very few people to visit her. She cannot see and often does not wake up, but she did like having her hand on my fur. She was very calm during my visit. We were listening to Yeats, by the way. I was very insistent to have her touch me, more so than usual. We fell asleep later with her hand splayed on my head, both of us snoring (but no proof of that!) I sure can be silly at times, but I also know when to be quiet and present. Her caregivers were very appreciative when they saw this video.Posted by JJ, Hospice Therapy Dog on 2014. február 23.
Dogs can give effective help in various fields of therapy. In nursery schools and elementary schools by facilitating communication between children; in hospitals and health institutions by serving as the furry guardian angels of physical and mental rehabilitation. Stroking a dog’s soft fur lower our stress level and the love we give them flows directly and constantly back to us. The physical contact and communication that comes from being near a dog is a heavenly gift we should all appreciate.
Dogs have a magical power – it’s obvious for all of us. This magic is much needed in more and more institutions nowadays and luckily more selfless dog owners choose the long and tiring but uplifting path to ease the suffering of their fellow-beings with their four-legged friends. Helping paws have an important role in healing hearts way beyond physical therapy.
Index image source: wikipedia.org
First appearance of this article: 2015. September 12.
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