Canine-Assisted Psychotherapy in the Treatment of Addiction

Canine-Assisted Psychotherapy utilizes therapy dogs in mental health and substance abuse treatment. Animals enhance the benefits of therapeutic modalities. As an animal-friendly program, we see the impact animals have each day. Furthermore, there are many ways that dogs impact us through the human-animal bond.

Research shows Canine-Assisted Psychotherapy benefits:

  • Behavioral problems
  • Addiction
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Treatment Resistance

Dogs provide unconditional love and acceptance. This can promote health and healing when used in substance abuse and mental health therapy. Also, this positivity provides clients with healthy bonds. The connection creates an opportunity for clients to feel self-love and self-acceptance. Furthermore, animals can help decreases stress and anxiety. Hence, this is positive for the therapeutic process.

Dogs, Emotions, and Self-Regulation

Dogs provide immediate feedback. And they connect on nuanced levels. They can reflect emotions. Also, they help people to identify emotions and practice emotional regulation. Therefore, this allows clients to practice healthy coping skills. This is enhanced with the support of a clinical therapist.

The therapeutic experience can be challenging and stressful at times. A therapy dog can help to decrease anxiety. In addition, time with animals can increase feelings of well-being. This value is significant. As a result, physical activity and dog training can help to improve physical health, communication, and patience.

Benefits of Canine-Assisted Therapy include:

  • Strengthen the therapeutic alliance between therapist and client
  • Increase self-confidence
  • Improve psychosocial functioning
  • Decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
  • Decrease Stress
  • Improve communication skills
  • Better Mood
  • Improve anger management
  • Better physical health

It is important to ensure that both the client and the therapy dog are comfortable. Also, it is key to ensure that both will benefit from the therapeutic encounter. Consequently, this happens prior to engaging in canine-assisted interventions.

At Redpoint, we are lucky to have our own therapy dog named Parker. Parker is generally in the office on most days of the week. He is happy to sit in on a client’s therapy session if he isn’t busy chewing his toys.

Studies reveal the efficacy of animal-assisted modalities. In conclusion, animals have a positive impact. Our furry friends bring love and more!

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, drug addiction, or mental health concerns, we are here to help. The Redpoint Center treats both adults and youth struggling with addiction and alcohol abuse. Learn more about our program.  Call us any time 888-509-3153.

More information on Canine-Assisted Psychotherapy:

  • Incorporating animal-assisted therapy in mental health treatments for adolescents: A systematic review of Canine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Melanie G. Jones, Simon M. Rice, Susan M. Cotton

  • Research on Benefits of Canine-Assisted Therapy for Adults in Nonmilitary Settings

Janet S. Knisely, Sandra B. Barker, and Randolph T. Barker

  • Patient benefit of dog-assisted interventions in health care: a systematic review Martina Lundqvis, Per Carlsson, Rune Sjödahl, Elvar Theodorssonand   Lars-Åke Levin

Leave a Reply