Animal Assisted Therapy – Therapists and Counselors in Colorado Springs, CO
“Our love is stronger than words and shoes”
-Max the terrier to his owner Katie (Secret Life of Pets)
It’s almost dangerous to walk a dog nowadays, especially if it is a puppy. Just a casual stroll with your favorite four-legged mammal will cue a shouted “DOG!” and mass rushes of excited children, overly enthusiastic teenagers (but who remain very cool) and yes, even adults.
No one is immune to that strange lure of petting anything that is cuddly, lovabable and preferably a dog.
Which is why Colorado Springs Thriveworks is pleased and excited to introduce you to our newest member of the therapy team: Eibsee (Eeb-see) the Bernese Mountain dog, a certified and trained therapy dog. Together, her and a human member of the team can now offer pet therapy for all clients (and no extra cost).
What is Pet Therapy?
Animal assistance therapy, as it is sometimes called, is a proven method to enhance the effects of therapy. Animals have been used on college campuses around Finals time as a stress reduction method, in hospitals to ease chronic pain in patients, and in nursery homes to bring joy.
The animal therapy does not mean that Eibsee will be the main focus of the therapy session. The focus will remain on you and the client-counselor relationship. Eibsee will be there as a tool to more effectively reach your goals for therapy.
Colorado Springs Thriveworks realizes counseling isn’t a one size fits all. Similar to how some can hike with tennis shoes, others need sturdier hiking boots and some like to have a walking stick to provide stability and security, animals can provide the comfort and security needed in a therapy session.
Pet therapy is like counseling with a walking stick, except the walking stick is an adorable, cuddly animal!
What are the benefits of Pet and Animal Therapy?
So, yes, obviously snuggling with a dog while talking to one of our Colorado Springs counselors would be amazing, but are there any actual benefits?
Yes! Pet therapy offers many psychological benefits that could get you to your happier and healthier self, faster than a normal session could offer.
Some benefits of interacting with a friendly and calm dog include:
- The release of endorphins which elevate your mood. (The same ones that are released after exercise…so maybe it is a good thing your furry friend ate your running shoes!)
- Lowers blood pressure- the physical act of petting a dog is found to lower blood pressure more than simply talking to or seeing one.
- Can reduce physical pain
- Overall people feel more relaxed with a therapy animal, most likely due to the physiological effects noted above.
- Alleviates feelings of loneliness and social anxiety
- Encourages communication
- Does not judge and has endless love. Our staff makes sure the office is a safe and nonjudgmental space, but having a dog makes it even more so!
With a dog in the room, you are suddenly not alone! The Colorado Springs Thrivework’s counselors are here so you are not alone and so you have a partner walking with you through the dark times. We understand that in the initial stages of therapy, it can be awkward and even intimidating talking to a stranger- especially a stranger who you know you will be sharing some personal stuff with! Eibsee can be your ally during these times. She is friendly, loves new people and would love to sit with you as you adjust to this new relationship (and continue to sit with you for as many sessions as you would like!)
Similar to our Walk and Talk therapy, this added dimension of sitting with a dog- increases your mood and decreases any adverse symptoms you may be having. You’ll leave feeling better than you arrived and the session is overall more effective.
Who would benefit from Pet therapy?
Anyone can benefit from pet therapy at Colorado Springs Thriveworks, and we encourage you to try it (Eibsee would be thrilled to meet you!)
There are some circumstances, however, that we think could receive extra benefit from animal therapy. This includes: (but is certainly not limited to!)
- Social Anxiety- if you struggle with social anxiety, the last thing you want to do is have a personal conversation with a stranger. We get it! Having a personal conversation with a cuddly dog however? It can reduce any anxiety you may feel in the session.
- Children- especially those who aren’t keen to meeting strangers. Having a dog to interact with first can acclimate them talking with the therapist. When the dog shows them love, and then demonstrates the same confidence and love towards the therapist, it shows the child that we can be trusted.
- Mood disorders- like depression and anxiety can be improved by pet therapy because of the positive effects it has on mood.
- Low self-esteem- the unconditional love of a dog can increase confidence in yourself.
- Anyone who is having trouble talking about sensitive topics- Eibsee can serve as a way to address those issues indirectly. Talking about her can lead us to talk about you.
- Problems with talking or connecting with others
- Those who struggle to remain focused or lack self-control
Almost anything you would see a counselor for could be helped by therapy with a dog. Call Colorado Springs Thriveworks if you think Eibsee could be of assistance to you! We have no waitlist and would be excited to work with you! When you call to schedule, simply let them know that you’d like to have Eibsee in the appointment. 719-266-3919