Kellen Von Houser, M.A., LPCSTherapyWorks www.austintherapyworks.org email@example.com P. O. Box 1707 Manchaca, Texas 78652 Phone: (512) 916-9832 Fax: (512) 916-9832
Hello, My name is Jen Navari. I am a senior at Penn Trafford high school. As a senior we have a senior research project, this project entitles us to research any subject we chose and conduct a 15 minute presentation. The topic I chose was animal - assisted therapy and the animal human bond. I was hoping I could ask you a few questions.
In your opinion, how important is the animal human bond?
Crucial. I think humans like to pretend we aren't animals, but we are. When we cut ourselves off from animals we cut ourselves off from an innate part of ourselves. Animals keep us connected to the Earth and to each other.An example:I've worked with serious, long-term drug addicts who have come in off the streets and they have no idea how to act in the world without being high or stoned. So they go to the city animal shelter, rescue a dog and join a dog club. The rescued dog teaches them how to socialize and is their ticket back to humanity. They stand with the other dog owners, in comfortable clothes and a defined topic of conversation. And what dog owner cannot talk about their dog! I had one man who developed a terminal illness. His dog club friends and his dog walked with him through the end of his life.Another example:The organization I now work for works with children who have been removed from their homes by Child Protective Services. Because of the violence and neglect they have experienced at the hands of their parents they trust no one. They have faith in nothing. Until they meet the horses. Because they weren't hurt by a horses they open up and trust the horse. By having faith in the horse they are able to attach to something in this world. And by attaching to and having faith in one single animal they open up the possibility of finding their way back to trusting in humanity.
How do you think an animal can change our view of the world?
By being worthy of our trust and our compassion. By reminding us that what is important is not the latest car or gadget but our relationships with each other and how we treat each other.I also think they can challenge us to be better. Humans are so violent and we war with each other and mistreat each other over such silly things like skin color. Animals do not care about such things. (A black cat and a white cat will get along great and have litters of black and white kittens!) Not only do they not discriminate against others of their own species they get along with members of other species. We had a chickens who raised an orphaned baby duck. (The poor chicken mother almost had a heart attack when her baby "chick" jumped in the pond to swim!!!) We currently have an orphaned sheep who is being cared for by a bunch of dogs. She stays with them to protect her and they allow her to travel with them. And dogs are predators and sheep are prey. They shouldn't get along, but they do. We have a lot to learn...
Do you think animals have a positive or negative impact on our lives? Why?
I can only imagine an animal having a negative impact on us when we abuse them and they learn to act like us. I see nothing but positive outcomes when we approach and interact with animals with respect and empathy.
When people are around animals so you see a change in their behavior? If so, why do you think there is a change?
Absolutely! There are too many reasons to list here, but one of the big ones is because we drop our facades. We don't have to pretend to be someone different with animals. They don't care what kind of car we drive or whether we are wearing the right brand of jeans. They don't care what race, religion or sexual orientation we are. They only care how we treat them. And that allows us to be authentic, something we don't usually get to be with each other. This is especially true with horses. If you try to be phony with them they get nervous and will want to get away from you. They challenge us to get real.
How do you know if an animal is suitable for therapy work?
Some horses are drawn to humans and some could care less. Because we are doing psychotherapy with the horses we don't ride them. The kids stand on the ground and interact with them as individual "people". Therefore, they the horse has to be interested in humans and want to interact with us.
Do you think an animal can help someone learn something again? As in walk or move an arm. If so why do you think this is possible?
Hmmmm, I'm not sure since we don't deal with physical disabilities. I think that would depend on the amount of damage done by disease or injury.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you can answer my questions.
I hope I could too!!! Let me know if I didn't.Kellen
Equine assisted psychotherapy is a type of animal assisted therapy, a field of mental health that recognizes the bond between animals and humans and the potential for emotional healing that can occur when a relationship is formed between the two...
The aim is to have them visit schools, hospitals and nursing homes once they're approved by a national organization called Pet Partners, which will evaluate them for so-called animal-assisted activities and therapy.
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