MIDLAND, TX (Big 2/Fox 24) – Kristi Edwards from Centers for Children and Families believes that therapy dogs can play a role in improving mental and even physical health.
“Therapy dogs are pets that have been trained to provide emotional support to people,” says Edwards. “They are trained to be gentle and friendly and to accept strangers hugging them or petting them, and they are extremely patient. Therapy dogs support a person’s mental health by providing attention and comfort. Their unconditional love may have a therapeutic benefit to those who may be facing difficult emotional or physical challenges.”
Research suggests that patients who are recovering from difficult surgery or a severe accident who participate in animal-assisted therapy may feel less pain. She says they also know that people with major psychiatric disorders, PTSD and Alzheimer’s benefit from their interactions with therapy dogs.
She says that they can bring help to anyone and that dogs are especially helpful for children. Whether it’s talking to them or petting them, she says children love them. They can also help break down barriers with children with autism.
“Children with autism engage in significantly greater use of language as well as social interaction in their therapy sessions that incorporate animals compared to standard therapy sessions without them.”
Centers for Children and Families has their own therapy dog program and while it’s currently not up and running due to COVID-19 restrictions, they are excited to bring the program back. Edwards knows that it brings so much help to so many people and is ready to start getting people involved with therapy dogs more often.