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A-Z Teen Health Glossary

Animal Assisted Therapy

Animal assisted therapy is an alternative therapy modality that uses the innate connection and attachment of humans and animals as a therapeutic technique. During this modality, teens engage in regular care, interaction, and engagement with animals, resulting in them experiencing a sense of ease, relaxation, and enjoyment, which helps to open them up and engage in the treatment process.

Does This Alternative Therapy Work?

Animal assisted therapy began with the Biophilia Hypothesis, which states that the natural human interest and attachment to animals dates back to the close historical relationship between animals and humans. More specifically, the hypothesis suggests that humans’ survival was at least somewhat based on their ability to interpret signs and signals from the animals they shared environment with.

Therefore, because of this relationship of the animals’ instincts determining human instincts, this suggests that even today, if we see animals in a peaceful state, then it helps us to feel peaceful, as well. This hypothesis translates to animal assisted therapy, which incorporates teens spending time with animals and gaining a sense of comfort, from doing so. This comfort, in turn, makes it easier for teens to open up in other aspects of their treatment process.

Animal Assisted Therapy for Teens at Paradigm Austin

Animal assisted therapy can be a valuable therapeutic technique for numerous different needs, including a range of mental health and substance abuse conditions. We find it to be particularly useful in helping teens that struggle with interpersonal interaction, such as is common with anxiety disorders and autism. Very often we find that through this therapy, teens feel a connection with the animals that produces a comfort, and so when animals are present during a treatment session, the comfort translates to allowing the teens to feel more comfortable in the setting and therefore, more able to engage in the therapy.

Beyond this, animal assistance is very enjoyable and simply provides a positive force in the lives of teens who are struggling. This is very important to us at Paradigm Austin, as we firmly believe in trying to encourage and strengthen the joys and interests teens have, as a way of concentrating on the positive aspects of their lives, rather than just the negative. At Paradigm Austin, we offer animal assisted therapy as part of our teen treatment programs for adolescents who are struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse disorders. Paradigm Austin is a residential teen treatment facility that specializes in holistic treatment and offers a number of different alternative therapy programs along with traditional modalities.