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South Carolina animal assisted therapy

In modern substance rehab programs, you will receive multiple forms of support for your recovery. Generally speaking, that support falls into one of two categories. First are the primary treatments that form the core of your drug or alcohol rehab plan. Next come secondary treatments that play a complementary role to your primary care. These treatments don’t work on their own, but they do form an additional, important layer of recovery services.

A wide range of secondary options have a potential role in effective substance treatment. The list of these options includes something called animal-assisted therapy (AAT). This therapy gets its name because it relies on interaction with an animal companion to help enhance your recovery. This enhancement has the potential to improve your overall outcomes in several important ways.

Southern Sky Recovery is a top-rated drug rehab in Bluffton that offers animal-assisted therapy. We regularly make use of a variety of secondary services when treating participants in our rehab programs. Your many options include South Carolina animal-assisted therapy. We make full use of this therapy to support your core recovery goals.

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The Basics of Animal-Assisted Therapy

The term animal-assisted therapy can apply to any therapy that relies on interaction with an animal to produce a specific benefit. Common immediate goals of this therapy include:

  • Improving your physical or emotional well-being
  • Helping you use and improve your higher mental functions, e.g., thought and memory
  • Increasing your ability to interact in social situations

There is no single right setting for this therapy. Instead, it can provide its benefits when used:

  • Indoors
  • Outdoors
  • In rural or urban environments
  • With groups of people or with individuals

Dogs are the most common choice for AAT programs. That’s true, in part, because they come in a wide range of sizes and species. Dogs are also more easily trained for AAT than many other kinds of animals. Additional types of animals used in the therapy include everything from horses to dolphins. Even the seemingly untamable house cat can make a good AAT companion in the right circumstances.

Have more questions about the basic goals and concepts of animal-assisted therapy? Our staff of helpful professionals is standing by to answer them.

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How Does South Carolina Animal-Assisted Therapy Work?

Your animal companion isn’t always with you in the typical AAT program. Instead, you work with that animal in weekly sessions overseen by your therapist. During the first session, your therapist introduces you to your companion and you have your first interaction. In following sessions, you grow more familiar with it and engage with it in various kinds of activities. 

The activities used in particular forms of AAT may vary. If you’re working with a dog, things you may do during your sessions include:

  • Petting your companion
  • Getting them to sit and lie down
  • Teaching them to respond to other simple commands
  • Getting them to focus their attention on you
  • Feeding them
  • Grooming them
  • Working in the presence of others who also have animal companions

If you’re working with a horse, the main goal may simply be forging a bond of trust between you and your companion. Given the nature of horses, this task often provides you with challenges such as:

  • Paying close attention to the horse’s body language
  • Adjusting your own body language to make it more horse-friendly
  • Taking responsibility for some aspects of your companion’s care and feeding routine

It typically takes quite a few sessions to gain the benefits of animal-assisted therapy. That’s true because these benefits tend to come gradually rather than all at once. The average program can take weeks or months to complete. 

For more information on how AAT programs work, talk to the professionals at Southern Sky today.

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What Are the Potential Recovery Benefits of AAT?

How can participation in animal-assisted therapy help you get more out of drug or alcohol rehab? The potential benefits of AAT fall into three general categories. Improved outcomes in each of these categories can make it easier for you to meet your treatment goals.

Daily Life Skills

Addiction can rob you of your ability to function in several basic ways. Specific daily life skills that may suffer include:

  • Your ability to take care of yourself
  • The way you behave when you interact with other people
  • Your communication skills when interacting with others
  • Your general behavior in everyday situations
  • Your overall ability to lead an independent existence

Research shows that participation in AAT can help you make improvements in almost all of these areas.

Impulsive Behavior

Overly impulsive tendencies are common in people affected by serious substance problems. These tendencies can affect:

  • How you think from moment to moment
  •  The ways you respond to your thoughts, as well as your emotions
  • Whether or not you plan before you act

Animal-assisted therapy can help you reduce the level of impulsiveness you show when making plans. It can also help decrease your overall level of impulsiveness.

The Ability to Form a Working Relationship with Your Therapist

The bond you forge with your therapist can greatly impact the course of substance treatment. This bond is commonly known as the therapeutic alliance. When it’s strong, you view your therapist as your ally in drug or alcohol recovery. As a rule, this positive outlook:

  • Helps motivate you during treatment
  • Makes it easier for you to trust your treatment and its goals
  • Contributes to better overall treatment results

While you work with an animal companion in AAT, you also work with your therapist. Research shows that these combined interactions can help strengthen your therapeutic alliance. That’s true even if you’re affected by other mental health issues, as well as substance abuse or addiction.

Want to know more about the potential benefits of animal-assisted therapy? Consult Southern Sky today for additional details.

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Take Part in South Carolina Animal-Assisted Therapy at Southern Sky

Animal-assisted therapy is not a standalone option for drug or alcohol recovery. However, when paired with standard psychotherapy or medication, it can help further your treatment success. That’s true no matter which specific forms of AAT are available to you. While they’re secondary, the benefits you receive can make a real difference.

Do you or your loved one need a provider for South Carolina animal-assisted therapy? Southern Sky Recovery can help. We feature customized AAT services that fit right in with other forms of treatment you receive. Our goal is to create a seamless overall plan that makes the best use of your primary and secondary recovery options. Want to find out more about our program? Just contact us today via phone or one of our online forms.

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