Safety In Online Chat Rooms

 

 

If you are the type of person who feels more comfortable writing about your feelings and issues instead of talking face to face with another, then, you may feel comfortable joining online chat rooms.  You may want to interact in any of the following, just to name a few:

While you may feel a level of comfort in these online discussions, there are steps you need to take to protect your privacy and safety.…

Helping Others to Help Yourself

 

Do you ever feel like no one cares about what you do, how you feel or what you say?  It may be the way you feel, but your interpretation of situations may not be grounded in what is truly happening.  If you are feeling those feelings, then, they are real to you and you need to do something to change those feelings. You have to feel better about yourself and others around you.  Helping others is one way to change these feelings.…

Affordable Therapy

 

Therapy, as in psychological or psychiatric, is generally covered by health insurance.  Mental illness and other psychological issues can have a huge impact on a person’s life and the lives of those around that individual.  It is definitely a need for many people and not a luxury.  If health insurance is not an option that you have access to and you say to yourself, “I need to find a therapist near me”, then, there are other affordable choices.…

Is Talk Therapy Right For Me

 

If you feel that you need to talk to someone about issues or feelings that are coming up, but aren’t sure if talk therapy is right for you, what can you do?  Fortunately, in this age of technology, you can do a lot of research online to find out answers to many questions.  If you aren’t someone who likes to talk, what do you do?  If you can’t make time in your busy schedule, what do you do?  If you don’t have a method of transportation to get to appointments, what do you do?…

Snakes As Therapy Pets

Source: pixabay.com

Source: pixabay.com

Most therapists use domestic animals, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds, as therapy pets. Individuals accept these animals well because they have been proven to provide emotional support countless times. However, these house pets sometimes are not able to deliver. Some may not have the training to be an emotional support animal. Some may be too loud and playful for the patient. Some may require a lot of your time and money.

What can a therapist alternatively suggest? A lot of people are unaware that snakes can also be a viable option for animal therapy.

Source: pixabay.com

Others might be hesitant to engage with these animals since they see them as poisonous and dangerous, but various types of snakes do not possess these qualities. With that, here are reasons why you should not overlook a snake as a therapy pet.

They Cater To The Specific Needs Of People With Autism

In some cases, the hyperactivity of cats and dogs might overwhelm those with autism. Therefore, the best way to address this is to pair them up with idle, relaxed, and slow-moving animals like the snake. Their movements and scales are fascinating to observe, and these characteristics also calm the mind. No need to worry about them disrupting you at times that you have to focus.

They Are Easy To Take Care Of

Most therapy snakes can dwell in the four corners of their glass cage. All you have to do is build a comfortable environment where they can still regulate the correct body temperature for its lifestyle. Its cage also does not need much space compared to that of a cat or a dog. For reference, a boa constrictor which is 8 feet in length, can comfortably live in a 30-cubic-feet area.

They Contribute To Lower Blood Pressure

This pet is also beneficial for someone with high blood pressure. Watching them crawl smoothly and elegantly inside its tank can be both soothing and meditative. Several studies revealed that it is as calming and relaxing as yoga. From here, there is a significant possibility that the heart rate and blood pressure of the patient will lower.

Source: pixabay.com

They Do Not Set Off Allergies

Compare to other household animals, these types of reptiles are known as hypoallergenic animals. They do not produce dander since they have scales instead of soft skin—no dander, no allergies. Therefore, snakes are more suitable therapy animals for people who have a sensitive immune system.

They Do Not Stress Out Owners

Admit it or not, dogs become angry, frustrated, or depressed whenever their owners do not give them their desired attention. This situation sometimes stresses out the owners. Snakes, however, do not display this kind of behavior. They are low-maintenance, and they do not immediately resort to these stressful behaviors, given that they are solitary creatures.

Although they have a negative reputation among many people, snakes are still considered one of the prime candidates for therapy animals. They are unique, and they provide services that no other domestic animal can.…

Why Owning A Pet Is Beneficial To Your Family’s Health

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Many pet owners want companion animals to make their lives more joyful and enjoyable than ever. What most of them might not be aware of are the physical and mental health benefits owning a pet can bring into their households. Some studies found that caring for pets can help your loving family members cope with various health issues.

Pets, especially dogs, can reduce stress, anxiety, loneliness, and even depression. Because they can understand many of the words we use and interpret our tone and body language, dogs can gauge our emotional state. They can also encourage physical exercise and improve our cardiovascular health. Teresa Paterson, LPC, LCPC, RPT, CCTP explains that “Therapy Dogs are a type of service dog, although Therapy Dogs training is specific to meet the needs of multiple people in an intimate setting.”

Source: pixabay.com

The Health Benefits For Adults And The Elderly

Being a pet owner plays a vital role in healthy aging. It can help the older adults in our family boost their morale, optimism, self-worth, and sense of fulfillment even after retirement. Caring for a pet also lets our elders maintain a social network. Anyone can spark up a conversation about a favorite animal, which can be a great start in meeting new people.

Meanwhile, facing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is inevitable as we age. Patients with the said disease may exhibit various behavioral problems, with many related to their inability to deal with stress. In line with this, a University of California at Davis research concluded patients who own a pet at home become less stressed and deal with fewer anxious outbursts.

The Health Benefits For Children

Studies suggest that children who grow up with pets have less risk of having health issues such as allergies and asthma. They also learn how to be responsible and compassionate at a young age. The mere presence of pets at home can contribute to children having a sense of security, especially when their parents are not around.

Melissa Burns, LCPC, LLC said: “Animals offer support and nonjudgmental healing opportunities and can serve as a bridge for patients to bond with their healthcare providers.” Research has also shown that kids who are emotionally attached to their pets can better build relationships with other people. They can also help calm overly aggressive children. Playing with their cats or dogs can serve as a source of relaxation and stimulation for the brain and body.

It has also been found that some children with autism or other learning difficulties can interact with pets better than they do with people. Now it is yet to be determined whether learning to connect with a pet first may help children on the spectrum interact better with other people.

Source: pixabay.com

The Right Pets

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found the following to more likely get communicable zoonotic diseases from animals:

  • Children aged five and below
  • People with weak immune systems
  • Elderly

Pregnant women also face a higher risk of suffering from animal-related diseases. Here are some essential things to remember in choosing your family pet:

  • Households with children aged five and below should not own pet reptiles and amphibians such as turtles, lizards, snakes, and frogs. We also do not recommend backyard poultry, which can pose a risk of serious illness from harmful germs.
  • Pregnant women should avoid owning a new cat or touching stray cats, especially kittens. Cats can carry a parasite that causes a disease which can lead to congenital disabilities. If you are pregnant and already own a cat, you do not need to give it up. However, you should refrain from changing cat litter. You must also avoid direct contact with a pet rodent.

According to Phyllis Laughlin, LCPC, “Some people benefit from anti-depressants for symptom relief. Pet therapy is often beneficial, whether it’s an animal at home or a therapy service dog.” However, it is best to talk to a veterinarian before making pet ownership decisions for your family’s healthier and stress-free life.

How Pets Help People With Dementia And Alzheimer’s Disease

Source: pixabay.com

When you explore care facilities and nursing homes nowadays, you’ll notice the presence of several animals there. You might see a person petting a dog, a cat doing its rounds, or a parrot entertaining some patients. There are hundreds of published researches stating how useful these pets are to those who have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some of their benefits.

They Keep People Calm

A study from Ohio State University stated that whenever these patients visit farms, they display a more active physical presence. Their energy increases even more whenever they are asked to groom, feed, and bathe horses. The nonjudgmental behavior of horses, the tranquility of the farm, and its smells trigger their peaceful childhood memories, according to experts. Melissa Burns, LCPC, LLC agrees to the statement by saying “It is noted that the Ancient Greeks used horse-assisted therapy as early as 600BC to raise the spirits of the incurably ill.”

They Improve Nutrition

An experiment by a couple of Purdue University researchers started by placing fish aquariums in the rooms of 60 patients with Alzheimer’s. They use these fish aquariums every day for two weeks and then once a week for six weeks to analyze the effects of the presence of these fishes on the nutritional status of the patients.

The researchers saw that their food intake increased slowly in the first two to three weeks and continued doing so in the succeeding weeks. For those six weeks, the patients gained approximately 1.6 pounds, and some were given the green light by their doctors to let go of several of their nutritional supplementations.

Source: pixabay.com

Source: pixabay.com

They Help With Behavioral Problems

Another research studied the effects of the presence of a resident dog rather than relying on a visiting dog. The researchers started the experiment by measuring the resident’s behavior weeks before the resident dog arrived (the visiting dog still visits the place two to three times a week). The next observation happens four weeks after placing the dog on the unit. Peg Shippert, MA, LPC said “A therapy dog can bring both physical and emotional benefits. The less physical and emotional stress you are experiencing, the more present and receptive you are to therapy, both immediately and over the longer term.” And that what entirely happens.

The results found a significant positive change in behavior in the patients during the four weeks of conducting the study. This claim was backed up by other research studies which stated that their aggression and agitation declined whenever they lived with these pets.

They Improve Memory

The improvement of the memory of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has a direct correlation with the presence of service animals. Those with memory loss often find themselves more engaged with these pets, and they do remember them most of the time. Their memory loss even improves more significantly if they are also pet owners in the past.

Source: pexels.com

They Improve Social Interaction

A group of women with dementia was recently studied while they were living in a nursing home. The researchers observed that their ability to spark and sustain meaningful conversations increases after spending 10 to 20 minutes of their time with cats.

Annie Zenn, MS, LPC explain that “numerous research studies have been undertaken to validate the benefits of animal-assisted activity and in particular the contribution of therapy dogs.” Animals provide large doses of laughter, love, and light to people’s lives every day. However, these pets mean so much more for those people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia since their therapeutic aura improves their condition significantly. These adorable critters can make a difference in the lives of both the patients and their loved ones.…

Best Dog Breeds To Battle Depression

Dogs are, indeed, man’s best friend. In the age of mental health awareness and advocacy, studies have very clearly shown that dogs can assist significantly. More research has provided that owning a dog improves blood circulation, elevates the good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, and lowers cholesterol.

According to Kurt Smith, Psy.D., LMFT, LPCC, AFC, “Depression is exhausting to the person suffering from it. Just accomplishing the bare minimum can seem like too much work.” Dog owners will attest that the benefits of having a dog outweigh the cost in time and money. Dogs offer a unique degree of companionship and affection that arguably no other being, human or otherwise, can provide consistently.

“Loneliness is an epidemic, We’re the most socially connected society, yet so many people experience extreme loneliness,” says psychologist Amy Sullivan, PsyD. In the battle for depression, along with other mental health issues, the dogs below have been tested and proven to provide the needed support for individuals by giving love, responsibility, activity, and routine. Read the following discussions on these dogs and see for yourself which dog best fits your personality.

Source: pexels.com

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Although not that big, this dog provides that much needed cuddle time that everybody yearns for. Dubbed as the love sponge and the cuddle bug, this dog has been included in top royal circles for its beauty, elegance, and easygoing personality. These dogs are naturally happy and affectionate.

Challenges that owners of this kind of dog may face are grooming and susceptibility to heart-related ailments.

Source: pexels.com

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers are a staple in not only the dog industry but also the movie industry. They are your typical all-around, can-do dogs that never back out of any situation or person. They are also known to show an immense capacity to love and are very easily trainable as they are well-behaved. Aside from its loving nature, they are very active and playful.

Challenges that owners of this kind of dog may face are shedding of fur and physical exhaustion due to their need for daily activity.

Pug

Who does not love a dog that naturally looks grumpy day in and day out? Despite their somewhat fixed facial configuration, pugs are delightful, charming, and surprisingly well-mannered, on top of being one of the goofiest dogs in town.

Challenges that owners of this kind of dog may face are cardiovascular issues and lack of physical activity.

Corgi

Corgis lack in size, but they make up for in intuition and guidance. Known as the working dog, Corgis were born leaders of the pack, with a combination of intelligence, curiosity, and eagerness to learn. These dogs can read the feelings of their owner and could adapt accordingly.

Challenges that owners of this kind of dog may face are hip-related concerns and eye health issues.

Source: pexels.com

Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus, known as a meme online (and rightfully so), is cute, attentive, alert, and active. Shiba Inus are known to be aloof and independent, but are playful and possess a carefree nature. Among all dog classes, this kind of dog is arguably one of the most low-maintenance pets.

Challenges that owners of this kind of dog may face are difficulty in training and knee issues.

Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC said, “There are many effective treatments for depression that are available to you when you make the decision to get help for your depression.” One of them is animal therapy, of course. Do you have a pet dog that supports you in your battle against depression? Share with us your experience in the comments!…

Top Animals That Therapists Use In Their Sessions

Most people think dogs are the only service animals used by therapists. However, more and more animals are now used alongside your canine friend. 

We know that pets pose various benefits. Trained or not, they are there to show their support and bring comfort to the lives of many people. They are there to provide companionship for owners while they take necessary actions for counseling and medical emergencies. Because of the increasing demand for animal-assisted therapy, therapists have opted to add other animals to the list. 

Dogs

Dogs are the most used and popular service animals today. They are known for their ability to comfort people, bring affection, and accompany people in need in confined living situations. They are also seen in various environments such as the grocery store, the mall, or even just down the street.

Source: hurburt.af.mil

Most individuals find the desire to pet a service dog when they see one. Do not worry; it’s pretty safe to do so. But in case you are hesitant to interact with them, you may opt to look for their “I am friendly! Ask my handler if you can pet me” patches. 

There are also three types of therapy dogs: 

  • Facility Therapy Dogs – These dogs are usually stationed in nursing homes to accompany patients with Alzheimer’s disease (or any other mental disability connected to getting confused or lost). 
  • Therapeutic Visitation Dogs – Therapeutic visitation dogs are household pets who veer away from the comforts of their homes to visit nursing homes, hospitals, and rehabilitation facilities. Then, they go back to their owners after doing so. 
  • Assisted Therapy Dogs – These special dogs are there to help individuals with their physical problems. Examples include regaining motor control, addressing the motion in the limbs, and improving hand-eye coordination. 

Cats

Believe it or not, there are still people who are intimidated or terrified by dogs. Because of that, these clients decide to hire service cats instead. Most therapists would say cats are one of the hardest animals to train; but when they get the hang of it, they are capable of accomplishing a wide range of tasks that not all animals can do. 

These friendly felines are most common in nursing homes. They are seen wandering around the corridors, coming in and out of the patients’ rooms, or on the laps of the elderlies who have dementia. 

Horses

Equine therapy is the most popular type of treatment for individuals experiencing disruptive thoughts and behaviors. Taking care of a large animal, such as a horse, requires your full attention. Hence, it helps you get out of your abnormal behaviors (abuse, anger, emotional, etc.). 

Source: dod.defense.gov

Studies show that equine therapy is scientifically proven to help enhance a person’s social skills, lower blood pressure, aid in anger management problems, increase confidence, and ease impatience and anxiety. Although this practice takes a lot of effort, it will most likely be beneficial in the end. 

Small Pets

Therapists are now starting to train small pets like hamsters, little turtles, rabbits, and guinea pigs to serve as emotional support animals (ESA). Just like dogs, they offer companionship, calmness, and comfort to the patients. These small animals also provide emotional support and aid in the improvement of motor skills. 

Most patients opt to take care of these smaller pets since they are easier to maintain than their canine co-workers. 

Birds

Birds, especially parrots, make great candidates for assistive therapy. For example, parrots are known to be engaging and interactive with their owners; hence, they often keep their minds occupied. They are also proven to show high levels of empathy. 

Source: pixabay.com

Some therapists also assign abused or injured birds to their patients, so they have something to take care of. Studies say that the birds’ situations contribute to the ease of symptoms of those individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Reptiles

Reptiles are new to therapy animal occupation. London was the first country to use them to help those people struggling with substance abuse, depression, and eating disorders. What makes this approach unique is the patients always feel a sense of fulfillment and surge of confidence, since caring for reptiles is uncommon. They think that they can finally succeed in this world; hence, boosting their image about themselves. 

Trained service animals conduct special programs to address a variety of physical and mental conditions. Animals are the better choice since they quickly respond to love and affection through consistent training and exposure to people. At the same time, patients are more comfortable to be themselves around these animals instead of pouring their attention to other humans.

Service Animals Vs. Emotional Support Animals

Patients with chronic illness often feel better when they had an animal companion by their side. With that positive result, getting an animal becomes part of a treatment that is called “animal-assisted therapy” or AAT. The said therapy has a lot of different variations. It can include everything from playing to a dog, feeding a bird, or taking care of a horse. Not all that, animal therapy gets often combined with other forms of any psychology treatments beneficial to the patient depending on his overall needs. Also, AAT promotes positive, measurable effects on both patients with and without clinical conditions as well. That explains why researchers are pretty much confident with its process.

Before we jump into the whole discussion of how animals can largely contribute to one’s overall health, let’s first discuss the difference between service animals and emotional support animals. A lot of people often get confused with the purpose of the two, so we will try to elaborate on their duties and responsibilities. These include their contribution to therapy, physical aid, emotional assistance, and more.

Service Animals  

A service animal is any trained dog. Other types of animals whether trained or untrained don’t represent SAs. The dog gets to do work or perform tasks that benefit an individual with a disability. According to Annie Zenn, MS, LPC, “numerous research studies have been undertaken to validate the benefits of animal-assisted activity and in particular the contribution of therapy dogs.” These include various cases of mental, sensory, and physical problems. Another type of service animal is called a psychiatric service dog. Its specific role is to help its owner with a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, Schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder in their everyday routine. The dog helps in alleviating its owner’s struggle. It includes the task of reminding them of taking their medication or signaling by barking to stop them from doing harmful behavior.

Emotional Support Animals

Meanwhile, an emotional support animal is often part of a therapy treatment plan. Unlike a service animal, an emotional support animal usually does not perform or do tasks. It only has to provide companionship and relieve the loneliness of a person. As Teresa Paterson, LPC, LCPC, RPT, CCTP explains, “Therapy Dogs are a type of service dog, although Therapy Dogs training is specific to meet the needs of multiple people in an intimate setting.” An emotional support animal does not need any specialized training to aid an individual with a disability. A recommendation letter from a therapist or a medical doctor is all that’s required to classify an animal as an ESA. The animal also helps in reducing anxiety, depression, and phobias. It is best recommended to those people with suicidal thoughts or those who already attempted suicide in the past.

The Benefits

It is important to talk briefly about why having an animal is beneficial to one’s health as a whole. One of the primary advantages of petting an animal is its ability to lower blood pressure levels and heart rate. That’s because it allows you to perform the physical task yourself. You can play with it, and walk and run with it too. The animal can help you boost physical awareness. And not only it gets you up and moving every day, but taking care of an animal also has mental benefits as well. It helps in the releasing of oxytocin or the relaxation hormone which is responsible for making people feel emotionally attached to others. When oxytocin gets released, the cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine levels decrease. The cortisol is a steroid hormone that often links to anxiety and stress.

By having a pet animal, it also encourages others to practice interaction. That explains why the animal also helps in addressing social anxiety issues. It can help in addressing struggles in making friends and meeting new people. The effect on emotions doesn’t only apply to animal lovers, but also to those individuals who feel neutral with having animal companions too. That’s why the secret to its success lies in the bond between humans and animals in general. It has a genuine and non-judgmental relationship that allows people to have a safe place to process emotions.

It’s no wonder why we love having pet animals so much. It can improve your mood, lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, provide comfort in terms of emotional crisis, and help you get connected with another being. Megan Walsh, LCPC agrees when she said “It’s truly amazing the lessons humans can learn from animals. Pets rejoice in life’s simple pleasures.”  The positive effects don’t just happen because the animals are cute. Instead, having them beside you says a lot more about what it means to become human. So if you are considering adopting an animal, you genuinely should go for it.…