We are thrilled to announce the newest member of the Teen Treatment Center family, Eddie, the Assistant Director of Pet Therapy! Eddie is a handsome black Basador, also known as a Labrador Retriever and Basset Hound mix. Although only a few months old, Eddie is thrilled to be part of the Teen Treatment Center team and looks forward to earning his certification in pet therapy around the time of his first birthday. In the meantime, Eddie is thoroughly enjoying his time as the resident pup. There has been a boost in the already positive morale since Eddie’s arrival, so much so that his fellow staff members even let it slide when he is caught sleeping on the clock (for now).
When working with troubled teenagers, it’s important to be mindful of the many ways to connect with them. Each teen comes to us with a unique background, circumstances and needs, and therefore requires an individualized approach to the healing process. Our team listens closely to our patients when they make recommendations about new ways to meet their needs while in treatment, and pet therapy has become one of the most popular requests.
What are the Benefits of Pet Therapy?
Besides having an adorable pup flopping around, there are many proven benefits to pet therapy, also known as animal-assisted therapy. This is a growing field that most often uses dogs, cats or horses to help individuals recover from a variety of conditions and provide an added sense of comfort and enjoyment. This interaction can release endorphins that produce a calming effect which can also alleviate pain, reduce stress and improve one’s overall psychological state.
Some of the additional benefits of pet therapy include:
- Increasing verbal communication
- Developing social skills
- Increasing willingness to join activities
- Improving self-esteem
- Teaching responsibility
- Teaching empathy and nurturing skills
- Decreasing outbursts
- Improving rapport with therapist
The above benefits work together to improve our patient’s willingness to engage in the treatment process. Perhaps one of the most important ways having Eddie around benefits our patients is by allowing them to “act like kids” again. Many of the teenagers who are in our care are dealing with deeply-rooted issues and have forgotten how to let go of the emotions weighing them down. In addition, having abused drugs or alcohol for so long, many teenagers have forgotten how to have fun without these substances. Having Eddie around creates a fun, light-hearted atmosphere where teens are able to be in the moment and simply enjoy themselves.
We have already witnessed Eddie making an impact on our patients:
“We recently had a patient who was having a really hard time dealing with some difficulties from home and was very emotional. In these situations, one of our therapists will do a mini intervention to help the patient get back on track with their day. This time, the therapist took Eddie with her, and he immediately began trying to comfort the patient. Within a few minutes the patient had not only calmed down but also started to cheer up and feel better.” –Kelley Wood, Director of Counseling Services
We look forward to sharing more stories in the future about Eddie’s positive influence at Teen Treatment Center!