“There is no greater gift of love than that of an animal choosing to share part of his soul’s journey here with you.”
-Amy Miller, author and speaker
Animal-assisted therapy can help teens in recovery from problematic behaviors or those in emotional distress. Pets and the domestication of animals have been a part of the human experience since prehistoric times. Humans have a special bond with their pets and animal-assisted therapies utilize this bond to help those in need of connection. When an animal or pet bonds with us, we can feel special and important to that animal. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center in Colorado understands the benefits of pet and animal-assisted therapy for troubled youth. We believe that time with animals and time in nature can be therapeutic for those struggling with emotional issues.
Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapies
Animal-assisted therapies, like pet therapy or equine therapy, can help troubled teens in many ways. Some places, like the Song of the Wolf Healing Center, provide a haven for neglected, abused, or unwanted wolfdogs. Troubled teens might feel a special connection to the stories of these animals due to sharing similar struggles in life. Animal-assisted therapies can help teens connect with others and with the natural world. By volunteering at this site, teens can gain some of the benefits of animal-assisted therapies, like:
Unconditional Love and Acceptance
Pets and animals do not judge us by our past or by our mistakes. They love us in the moment and accept us for who we are.
Teens who have struggled with problematic behaviors may have a difficult time feeling accepted. They may struggle with fitting in due to emotional difficulties or problems from their past.
To change, we need to accept who we are. When teens are not feeling unconditional love or acceptance from outside of themselves, they may have a difficult time with self-love or self-acceptance. Animals can help break this barrier down with their unconditional acceptance.
Animals and pets depend upon their caretakers to fulfill most of their needs.
When caring for animals, either a pet in our homes or at animal shelters, we learn to empathize with the needs of others.
By connecting with animals and pets, we can learn to connect with ourselves and others.
Sense of Safety
For teens struggling with anxiety, animals can provide a sense of comfort, safety, or companionship.
Pets, especially dogs, can be protective of their owners or caretakers. These animals can help teens feel safer when home alone.
Minimizing Stress and Helping us Relax
Animals can help to reduce our stress and help us to relax.
Stress may be triggering some emotional issues in teens. Anything that can reduce stress can be beneficial to their healing and recovery.
Pets and animals can provide teens struggling with addiction with activities that can distract them from triggers or cravings.
Diversionary activities help to take our kids’ minds off of their troubles and problems to reconnect with the outside world.
Getting out in nature and caring for animals can provide teens with healthier activities, especially if they are struggling with addiction.
Since animals require attention and routines, teens can learn how to care for themselves when being responsible for pets.
Teens may build their routines and schedules around caring for the needs of their pets.
Some teens can benefit from completing just “one thing a day” when beginning their recovery. Even pets, like fish, require some level of responsibility that can help a teen to find daily activities and household chores.
Getting Outside and Exercising
Animal-assisted therapy can involve volunteering at shelters or sanctuaries.
Teens get a chance to spend some time outdoors while getting exercise and fresh air.
Pets, like dogs, require regular exercise and walks to remain healthy and happy. Pet ownership gives us a reason to participate in a daily exercise routine as we participate alongside our pets.
Animal-assisted therapy can help troubled teens find healthy diversionary activities, develop empathy, connect with others, learn self-care, get exercise, and reduce stress. When teens are struggling with problematic behaviors or distressing emotions, they may feel alienated or that others do not accept them. Animals, whether pets or animals in a shelter, can help troubled teens reconnect with themselves and others. Animals and humans have created strong bonds with each other through the centuries based on mutual need fulfillment. Animal-assisted therapy uses this strong bond to help teens in recovery. Recovery is about re-establishing connections to ourselves and others. Animal-assisted therapies can help our kids build stronger bonds within themselves and others.
Animal-assisted therapies can help teens, who are struggling to find a sense of connection. Animals do not judge us for our past mistakes and offer unconditional love and acceptance. Teens struggling with emotional or behavioral problems may feel a lack of unconditional acceptance as others may be judging them for their past. They may have gotten into trouble, which has held them back and makes them feel that they are always going to be judged based on who they were. Animals and pets see who we are in the moment and can help to break down the barriers of self-judgment that we experience. Troubled teens can benefit from this unique form of therapy through pet ownership or volunteering at animal sanctuaries and shelters. Fire Mountain believes in the power of animal-assisted therapy and takes kids off-site to volunteer at animal sanctuaries.
Call us today at (303) 443-3343 to get more information on our residential treatment center.