Published June 28, 2017
By Adena Bank Lees, LCSW, LISAC, BCETS, FAAETS, CP
It is Wednesday morning, June 21st, 2017 at 11am. My wife reminds she is going to pick up two 8-week old foster kittens from the Humane Society at 3 this afternoon. Surprisingly, my heart opens, beats a bit faster with excitement, and I reply, “I am going with you!” Why am I surprised? Because I am not a cat lover. I actually do not like cats.
It is Sunday morning, June 25th, as I am writing. Today I can say I am a kitten lover. It didn’t take long. I still don’t know about cats, but kittens, yes. Caring for them and holding their small, soft, furry bodies in my arms fills me with joy. Watching them bounce, pounce, rumble and tumble with each other makes me smile. The stress and anxiety I have been carrying melts away and I am totally in the moment at hand. Isn’t this a goal for our clients? Lift and/or stabilize mood, be in the present vs. the past or the future, and experience unconditional love flowing both from and to them?
Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) – the term for pet therapy- is probably not news to you- you either have a pet or already appreciate the power of animals to soothe and regulate our human nervous systems. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and the use of therapy dogs are the most common and studied forms of AAI, yet empirical research is still needed to scientifically validate its effectiveness with mental health and related issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and chronic pain.
Below are some articles and a video (specifically about cats), to update you on the latest research.
Animal Assisted Therapy, National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association
Evaluating Animal-Assisted Therapy in Group Treatment for Child Sexual Abuse, Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, Nov 2012
Conceptual Framework for Animal Assisted Therapy, Tracy S. Geist, March 2011