Therapy dogs have gained recognition in recent years for their exceptional ability to provide comfort, support, and healing in mental health practice. These specially trained canines offer a unique form of therapy, benefiting individuals in a variety of circumstances. There are remarkable advantages that therapy dogs bring to mental health practices, as they promote emotional well-being and overall psychological healing.
Known to offer immediate physical and emotional comfort to individuals in mental health practice, the simple act of petting a dog has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and to promote the release of endorphins, which uplift mood and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. The presence of therapy dogs creates a soothing environment, fostering a sense of security and calmness, and allows individuals to open up and engage more readily in therapy sessions.
For individuals with social anxiety or communication difficulties, therapy dogs play a pivotal role in breaking down barriers. These dogs act as “ice-breakers” by creating a positive and non-judgmental atmosphere, encouraging social interaction. Patients often find it easier to initiate conversations and express their thoughts and emotions when in the presence of a therapy dog. This increased social interaction not only helps individuals to build confidence but also enhances their communication skills, leading to improved relationships and a sense of belonging.
One of the most significant benefits of therapy dogs in mental health practice is their ability to reduce stress and to aid in emotional regulation. Dogs have a calming influence on individuals, helping to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and tension. Therapy dogs can sense emotional distress and provide unconditional support, offering a reliable source of comfort during moments of heightened stress or emotional turmoil. Interacting with these dogs can serve as a healthy coping mechanism, redirecting negative emotions and promoting relaxation – thereby contributing to improved mental well-being.
Engaging individuals in therapy and motivating them to actively participate in their treatment can be challenging. Therapy dogs, however, have a remarkable ability to engage individuals and to encourage their involvement. The presence of a therapy dog can create a positive and enjoyable environment, making therapy sessions less intimidating and more appealing. The unconditional love and acceptance offered by therapy dogs can boost individuals’ self-esteem and enthusiasm, fostering a sense of purpose and empowerment throughout their therapeutic journey.
Therapy dogs serve as invaluable companions in a holistic mental health practice, offering myriad benefits to individuals seeking emotional healing and well-being. Their unique ability to provide physical comfort, enhance social interaction, reduce stress, and increase motivation has made them an integral part of mental health treatments. The unwavering support of therapy dogs continues to positively impact countless lives – proving their immense value in promoting holistic psychological wellness.
Interested clients can meet Ms. Tea, Stella Luna Counseling & Wellness’ own certified therapy dog. She is the beautiful Australian Cattle Dog of Samantha Weisman, a licensed professional counselor at Stella Luna. Sessions featuring Ms. Tea are another offering in our collection of holistic counseling services designed to empower greater Clevelanders towards better mental and emotional health and balanced living. Please reach out to Stella Luna with questions you may have about our mental health services, or begin the process of becoming a Stella Luna new client here.
If you are ready to embark on the path of knowing yourself more fully and experiencing life in a truly present and mindful way, I take an integral approach to guide you through to meet your goals for mental health and wellness. My areas of focus include PTSD, anxiety, depression, neurodivergence, and early childhood trauma.
I am fully trained in EMDR therapy and incorporate parts work, cognitive-behavioral therapies, and other integrative approaches to meet you where you are in your mental health journey. I have advanced certifications in early childhood trauma and PTSD. My dog, Ms.Tea, is a trained therapy dog and my clients can request her to be present in sessions for additional co-regulation and animal assisted therapy.