About Animal and Art Assisted Therapy and Wellbeing

Animal Assisted Therapy can be known by a variety of different terms including-

  • Pet therapy
  • Animal assisted activities
  • Animal assisted interventions
  • Emotional support animals
  • Companion animals
  • Exotic animal therapy
  • Dog Therapy
  • Dog assisted therapy

Animal Assisted Therapy is considered a complementary or alternative therapy and can be used in collaboration with more traditional methods such as counselling, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy to support individuals.

Animal Assisted Therapy is aimed at helping people cope with a huge variety of needs such as-

  • Dementia or cognative impairment
  • Mental health problems- Depression Anxiety, PTSD, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Eating Disorders for example
  • Neurodivergence- Autism, ADHD, touretts, dyslexia for example
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences
  • Behavioural or Emotional challenges
  • Sensory Processing issues

When someone is in need or facing challenges, animals can help provide comfort, reassurance, companionship and support free from any prejudice or judgement.

There can be vast differences in what type of animal therapy someone might receive, based on their own individual needs and requirements, the type of animal they are interacting with and the activities included within the session.

Happy dog in roundel

What are the benefits of Animal and Art Assisted Therapy and Wellbeing?

Physical health benefits

    • Lowers blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health
    • Can help to reduce amount of medication required by some individuals

    • Reduces the breathing rate in anxious patients
    • Releases many different hormones e.g Phenylethylamine (which has the same effect as having chocolate!)

    • Reduced level of pain experienced

    • Improved and increased mobility and balance

    • Improved fine motor skills and dexterity

    • Improved nutrition- increased food intake and weight gain in frail patients

    • Improved sleep

    • Reduced levels of isolation which can be as damaging to the body as smoking and obesity and can lead to premature death.

    Mental health benefits

      • Interacting with animals promotes the release of serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin – hormones that improve your mood

      • Reduced levels of anxiety

      • Promotes relaxation

      • Provides sense of comfort

      • Reduced level of stress experienced

      • Mental stimulation and motivation

      • Assists recall of memories and helps sequence temporal events

      • Provides an ‘escape’ and ‘distraction’

      • Improved language and social skills

      • Reduced levels of agitation and aggression in dementia patients

      • Increased social interaction

      • Improved communication skills