The practice of using animals to treat anxiety and mental health disorders dates to the 1800s. Even so, the concept of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) for drug and alcohol rehab is relatively new. What is an animal assisted therapy program and how can it help? Here’s what you need to know when looking at a pet therapy program.

Animal Assisted Therapy: An Overview

canine helps patient at animal assisted therapy program

Animal assisted therapy involves using specially-trained animals in rehab settings. Pet therapy programs are not treatments in themselves but are used alongside more conventional modalities such as group or adventure therapy sessions.

Therapists implement animal assisted therapy programs in a variety of manners. For example, you may spend time petting or playing with dogs, or enjoy fresh air and sunshine while going horseback riding. When it comes to animal addiction therapy programs, treatment specialists have great flexibility to use animals in ways that best suit their clients’ needs.

At Pillars Recovery, we allow residents to bring their own pets with them. For many, this provides comfort and stability, while alleviating any stress associated with leaving an animal behind. Caring for a pet can also help people take some of the focus off their own problems, and often makes it easier to meet other residents.

Animal Assisted Therapy Benefits

Studies show that when counselors use animals in group therapy sessions, it helps to build a sense of trust between themselves and their clients. As a result, people are often more willing to open up and talk about their problems. Animals can also calm an anxious mind, making it more likely that individuals will fully participate in their treatment.

People often face loneliness when entering a treatment facility. Being separated from friends and family members can sometimes make rehab all the more challenging. Animal assisted therapy helps alleviate some of that loneliness, and may even make some people less fearful about recovery.

Depression and anxiety often accompany substance abuse disorders. Having an animal around to love on can ease stress and help give you a sense of purpose again.

You may even feel a sense of acceptance since animals tend to love unconditionally. When around animals, you won’t have to feel judged by your past, and you will not feel that you somehow do not measure up. You may even find you have greater self-esteem after spending time with therapy animals.

Other Therapy Options

Animal assisted therapy is only one tool we use to help you get and stay sober. Aside from animal assisted therapy, our comprehensive addiction treatment programs can include:

Detox is the first step in any treatment program. Following detox, we will assign you to either the Laguna Beach facility for women or the Newport Beach center for men. Upon admission, our staff will design a custom treatment plan that takes into account your level of addiction as well as any co-occurring disorders.

Aftercare Program

Achieving sobriety is only a short-term goal of rehab. The long-term goal involves helping you remain that way for life. As such, we also offer a variety of aftercare programs designed to prevent relapse. An aftercare program can assist you in avoiding some of the triggers that caused you to abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place. Studies show that without the right aftercare program, more than half of those who complete treatment will relapse within the first few weeks following their release.

Addiction Specialists are Waiting to Hear from You

If you suffer from dependency issues, an animal assisted therapy program can help you obtain a new lease on life. Find out how animal assisted therapy can fit in with our other addiction therapy services. Stop allowing addiction to control your life. Take the first step by calling 866.782.0247 today.