As many of us know, animals can be great friends and companions, but they also help us start conversations and provide comfort to those around them. Domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, and horses have been used in animal assisted therapy for the benefits just mentioned and much more. Animals have a unique effect on the people they interact with no matter their age or relationship with the animal. Organizations and programs such as Gizmo 4 Mental Health, Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, and Animal Allies discuss the many ways in which animals can be used in a way to improve children and adults social and emotional learning, such as teaching empathy and selflessness.
Including Animals into Social and Emotional Learning, an article by TeachHeart.org discusses how including animals in lesson programs can help students recognize, understand, and control strong emotions. While incorporating animal motifs in learning can help with SEL, having animals physically in the classroom can benefit the students in a multitude of ways. This article by We Are Teachers discusses the importance of having therapy animals in the classroom, as therapy animals tend to help reduce anxiety and increase positive mood. Here is a great article about how therapy animals can increase reading skills, decrease anxiety and depression, and provide motivation in the classroom.
Therapy pets are not only beneficial for classrooms, but they’re also beneficial for assisted living facilities, court rooms, therapy sessions, college campuses, and much more. Here is an article that discusses the research done by Authors Binfet and Passmore in 2016, on animal assisted therapy and the feelings of homesickness in college students. The authors discovered that animal assisted therapy helped individuals feel less negative affect, higher satisfaction in life, and allowed for a deeper social connection.
Animals not only help children but adults as well. This article by Help Guide and this article by Mental Health America both discuss the many health benefits of owning pets. These benefits include lower blood pressure, decreased anxiety and depression levels, decreased levels of heart disease, increased positive affect, increased feelings of connectedness and social wellbeing. The articles also discuss other health benefits such as increased exercise, daily structure, and companionship.
We hope this inspires you to spend more time with your furry friends!