Pet Therapy in Mental Hospitals

Bonding

As a pet owner, you bring your pet to a mental hospital through a group that provides animal-assisted therapy such as Lead the Way. The pet is introduced during group session where the patients talk to and about the pet. The patients should be near the pet to promote bonding.

The bonding session helps the patients empathize with how others are feeling about the animal, helps the patients express their own feelings and see how the pet and pet owner bond. Seeing the bond between the pet owner and pet can help patients establish examples of caring relationships.

Self-Esteem and Self-Control

The pet can be introduced during both group and individual therapy sessions. The patient provides care for the pet by stroking it and giving it attention, which helps boost his self esteem. He is able to provide something for the pet, which the pet shows appreciation for through kisses (licks) and cuddles. This helps give patients a sense of accomplishment and teaches them that giving and caring is rewarded.

Additionally, caring for the pet teaches patients self-control as they can't just leave the pet alone and must take care of it. Teaching the pet tricks also helps the patients practice patience and self control.

Anxiety Reduction

The pet helps reduce anxiety as it gives the patient a living thing to bond with, who will love her unconditionally. This can lift her out of depression and teach her how to trust. This trust and bond can then be placed on therapists, fellow patients and maybe the rest of society. Animals have been incorporated as therapy in mental hospitals as early as the 1700s and 1800s in Europe and England. They were thought to give patients a useful function and an opportunity to learn care-giving and self-control. They were also seen as a calming influence. According to Lead the Way, therapy sessions with animals had the highest attendance rates and had above-average retention rates. They helped reduce patient anxiety and depression, and helped increase self esteem. Pet therapy is often done with the therapy animal and the pet owner.