Teen Animal Assisted Therapy is proven to be an effective tool in providing Teen Mental Health and/or Substance Abuse treatment. Teen Animal Assisted Therapy is a therapeutic modality in which teens spend time engaging and working with animals, as a way to promote functioning and healing on mental, emotional, and relational levels. Teen Animal Assisted Therapy has been shown to be especially helpful in helping resistant or defensive teens to engage successfully in the treatment process, and succesfully move toward recovery and healing.
One of the wonderful aspects of Teen Animal Assisted Therapy is that it allows for a very natural process in which there is no pressure on the teens to engage or behave in a particular or “correct” way. Teen Animal Assisted Therapy stems from the Biophilia Hypothesis, which speaks to the intrinsic connection between humans and animals, and the nonverbal ways of communicating which exist.
What we know from experience is that very often, the way we interpret animals’ current state can affect us to feel similarly; therefore, if we see animals that are peaceful, it can cause us to feel safe, peaceful, and restful as well. In the therapeutic context, these positive effects which animals can have on teens are both conscious and unconscious, and can help teens to experience more ease and comfort, by spending time working with and taking care of animals. This increased comfort can then in turn allow teens to open up and engage in their treatment in more effective ways.
In this sense, Teen Animal Assisted Therapy can improve both teens’ comfort with the treatment process, as well as the treatment environment itself, as teens continue to grow more comfortable in the setting. Because it’s natural for teens to feel comfortable, accepted, and not judged by animals, this consistent positive acceptance can translate into teens accepting themselves and also believing that they are accepted by others. This can also help teens to feel more comfortable and even accepted around their peers in treatment, as well as with their therapists.
Teen Animal Assisted Therapy can be used to treat a number of different mental health and substance abuse conditions, but proves especially useful for teens that are struggling with relationships and/or social interactions. Some examples of such illnesses include conditions such as Teen Autism, Teen Personality Disorders, and Teen Depression. In a sense, the time teens spend interacting with animals can translate to teens regaining the ability to successfully interact with other people, as certain impediments, false belief systems, or simply old habits gradually fall away. Teen Animal Assisted Therapy can help teens to feel less anxiety, help with depression, decrease stress, and gain an improved sense of self and enjoyment in being with others. At Paradigm San Francisco, we offer Teen Animal Assisted Therapy as one of our Teen Alternative Therapy programs.