Therapy Animals: How Therapy Animals Benefit Individuals with Mental Health Struggles

Therapy Animals: How Therapy Animals Benefit Individuals with Mental Health Struggles

By Celine Bennion

Have you ever had a bad day at school or work, felt irritable and discouraged, then came home to your pet greeting you with such enthusiasm that you forgot about your unpleasant day? Animals’ unconditional, loving nature has the power to instantly change a person’s mood, or even just help him or her feel better in general. This ability is utilized in therapeutic settings for those who struggle with mental disorders, as animals can facilitate healing in those afflicted.

Therapy animals are trained to exhibit certain mannerisms that are essential for providing therapeutic benefits to humans. These characteristics include gentleness, friendliness, and willingness to allow strangers to touch and interact with them. Pet owners may enroll their animals in such training to become registered in an official therapy animal organization. This certification allows therapy animals to visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and other institutions to provide comfort and companionship to those with whom they interact.

When a therapy animal is present in therapy sessions, patients feel more inclined to communicate and discuss difficult experiences. Additionally, they often experience an increase in self-esteem while in the presence of therapy animals. Individuals often find it difficult to disclose personal and emotional information with a stranger, which holds them back from receiving all of the benefits of psychotherapy. Therapy animals help to provide a sense of comfort, giving unconditional affection and creating a nonjudgmental atmosphere. Their presence makes it easier for patients to let down their guard and speak about their difficult experiences.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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