Teens and young adults face many challenges as they work to find their unique place in the world, especially while they struggle with substance misuse or a dual diagnosis like depression or anxiety. The Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine says pet therapy programs can be especially useful for the treatment of adolescent mental health disorders, since animals provide a source of comfort and security that facilitates communication during therapy.
When an adolescent is reluctant to share his or her feelings, the relaxed behavior of a therapy animal can be calming. Researchers hypothesize this is because humans have developed a subconscious capacity to use animal behavior as an indicator of environmental safety. Since therapy animals respond affectionately to attention, they also serve as a nonjudgmental source of emotional support during the recovery process.
Man’s Best Friend Proves His Worth
Although pet therapy can involve many different types of animals, dogs are especially popular in pet therapy programs due to their status as “man’s best friend.” The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids studied teens that spent time playing with dogs during substance abuse treatment. Participants reported increased joy, improved attentiveness, and feelings of serenity. The teens that were also struggling with depression, ADHD, and/or PTSD reported a significant decrease in symptoms after their pet therapy session.
Building a Foundation for Recovery
Red Oak Recovery® offers young adults struggling with substance abuse an innovative rehab program utilizing canine therapy, as well as experiential therapies in the form of yoga, acupuncture, mixed martial arts, gardening, music therapy, and expressive arts. Following National Institute on Drug Abuse(NIDA) principles for effective treatment, we strive to give young people the tools they need to move forward with their lives. Complete our contact form to connect with an admissions counselor today, or dial 866.831.9107 to get help now.